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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Enos' Mighty Prayer and His Desire


In the Book of Mormon, there is a book by Enos called "The Book of Enos". It is a short book, only one chapter and in it, Enos tells the story of how he prayed mightily for a day and night. Because of his faith, his sins were forgiven. In fact, the lord himself tells Enos he will grant him one wish.

Enos 1:12

And it came to pass that after I had prayed and labored with all diligence, the Lord said unto me: I will grant unto thee according to thy desires, because of thy faith.

Enos is asked what he desires, and he responds:

Enos 1:13

And now behold, this was the desire which I desired of him—that if it should so be, that my people, the Nephites, should fall into transgression, and by any means be destroyed, and the Lamanites should not be destroyed, that the Lord God would preserve a record of my people, the Nephites; even if it so be by the power of his holy arm, that it might be brought forth at some future day unto the Lamanites, that, perhaps, they might be brought unto salvation—

This is what I find a little odd. Why isn't the desire of Enos that the people of the Nephites would not fall into transgression? Or why wasn't his desire that the Lamanites might be brought unto salvation today and they can live in peace and harmony with the Nephites? I understand that God can not take away the free agency of others, but that wasn't the question. The question was what was it that Enos desired, and his desire is 'just in case' the Nephites fall into transgression, and the Nephites happen to be wiped out by the Lamanites or by any other means, then preserve the record for the Lamanites in a future time. That is what he desires most? It sounds to me more like a postdiction, or just literary foreshadowing at best. I find it rather suspect that Enos' ultimate desire is a "what if" scenario.

The covenant that Enos makes with the lord is based on an "if, then" agreement. IF the Nephites fall into transgression, THEN the lord will preserve the record. So by strict letter of the covenant, if the Nephites ultimately did not fall into transgression, or were not destroyed by the Lamanites, then the lord would not have any contractual obligation to assist the preservation the record. The Nephites would be on their own. The covenant only works with the assumption that the Nephites will be wiped out at a later date. Maybe Enos didn't have much faith in his fellow Nephites and knew that inevitably they would be wiped out? But that doesn't explain why his ultimate desire wouldn't be for the lord to protect his people, but instead 'if' they happen to be destroyed, 'then' preserve the record for the descendants of the people that destroyed his people.

That would be like the lord asking me what I desire the most for my 2 year old, and my response is "what I desire most for my 2 year old is if she ever gets kidnapped, preserve her Sesame Street DVDs so that the future generations of her kidnappers can one day learn the importance of education".

Disillusioned Mormon

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

You are a great writer, and I have been enjoying your posts for a while. I've been a closet disillusioned mormon for the past 10 years or so, but I must admit that you seem to find many interesting points like this one that I would never have found on my own. Do you come up with these ideas on your own, or are they pulled from a book somewhere and you add your insights (of course, I'm not referring to the big things like lamanites/DNA, etc., but the small things like this that just don't seem to make sense when you think objectively about them)? Either way, keep it up!

Aaron

Zelph said...

Aaron-

This blog is a mixture of things I have read and my own view and things I stumble across. This particular post is something I came across when I was studying something else.

Other things on here are things I might have noticed on my own that other people may have independently noticed. For example, my post on the writing style of the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham being in 1st person and the Bible being told in 3rd person, that was actually something that Bushman pointed out in the book 'Rough Stone Rolling' on page 131. Ultimately, the book Rough Stone Rolling is an apologetic book, so I would assume that Bushman includes this in there because this criticism has been brought up by many others.

In the case of Enos, this was something that I happened to run across when I was looking for scriptures that would indicate that Native Americans are Lamanites. I think that many things jump out in a different way as you see the Book of Mormon through disillusioned eyes.

I am sure there is plenty more I could learn. I haven't even read Grant Palmer's 'an insiders view of Mormon origins' yet.

Thanks for your comments. It is good to know I am not just talking to my 'Zelph'

Mormon Heretic said...

Zelph,

The footnote for Enos 1:13 lists 1 Nephi 15:5.

5 And it came to pass that I was overcome because of my afflictions, for I considered that mine afflictions were great above all, because of the destruction of my people, for I had beheld their fall.

Enos is referring to the vision of Nephi, which took place 50-60 years before Enos, not some "postdiction" event. That explains this "troubling" problem.

BTW, I'm not really trying to be an apologist for the church, but I see this one as a pretty obvious error, and an attempt to create a controversy that really isn't there.

I agree that things jump out at you when you "see the Book of Mormon through disillusioned eyes", but I think you're finding problems that aren't there.

Mind you, there are problems, but this is not one of them.

Zelph said...

MH-

That is a good cross reference. However, I still find it odd.

Enos in verse 9 mentions his desire for the welfare of his brethren the Nephites.

Enos 1:9
"Now, it came to pass that when I had heard these words I began to feel a desire for the welfare of my brethren, the Nephites; wherefore, I did pour out my whole soul unto God for them."

That is the set up to Enos' frame of mind, then the Lord says in verse 12 that he will grant Enos according to his desires because of his faith.

Enos 1:12
"...the Lord said unto me: I will grant unto thee according to thy desires, because of thy faith."

So even if Enos knew about Nephi's vision, why wasn't Enos' desire that the Nephites would be preserved? Is it that he didn't have faith that they would be preserved? Even if he knew of Nephi's vision, it still doesn't explain why Enos felt such a desire for the welfare of the Nephites and then when asked what his desire was his response was for the record to be preserved for the Lamanites.

Good catch, however, and Nephi foretells of the transgression in 1 Nephi 12:19

"And while the angel spake these words, I beheld and saw that the seed of my brethren did contend against my seed, according to the word of the angel; and because of the pride of my seed, and the temptations of the devil, I beheld that the seed of my brethren did overpower the people of my seed."

mormon heretic said...

Zelph,

God destroyed the earth, but saved Noah. God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, but saved Abraham and Lot. If God said he was going to destroy the Nephites, how is Enos faith going to change that?

God does answer prayers, but somtimes it is "no". If Enos wanted $1,000,000, would God have granted that? Obviously no--it's a selfish request.

When your boss says he's going to fire 5000 people from your company, are you going to go in there and tell him not to do it when you know the company is in trouble?

Obviously these are silly examples, but I think Enos was well aware of Nephi's vision and prophecy, and felt it inappropriate to make a request to save the Nephites. Obviously, with the story of Laban, Enos probably had a cultural knowledge of how important the plates were, so I think he was trying to be as altruistic as he could.

Was it a strange request? Perhaps, but I think if you look at the whole picture, and not this one isolated story, it is not so strange in the context of 1 and 2 Nephi.

But maybe I'm being too TBM... ;)

Really, Enos was much more Christlike in this request than Jonah was. Jonah would have been perfectly happy for God to destroy Ninevah, and was unhappy when the Ninevites repented and the city was saved. Are you saying Enos should have been more like Jonah?

Zelph said...

That is a Good point about Jonah!

Bishop Rick said...

MH,

I don't buy the "God answers prayers but sometimes the answer is no" doctrine.

When little children are kidnapped and being tortured and the only thing they have left is a prayer to God to be saved, and they are found dead weeks later. I guess God's answer was no.

God whispers into the ears (thru the HG) of those that have the gift and tells them to buckle their seatbelt preceding a crash, but ignores all the starving children in Africa.

God cures cancer and all manner of sicknesses, but has NEVER healed an amputee. I guess amputees are not worthy...none of them.

If there is a God, he/she certainly doesn't meddle with the affairs of this earth. If he/she actually does exist, and does meddle, then to hell with em. Their discrimination makes me sick to my stomach.

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