FAIR Study Aids/Gospel Doctrine/Book of Mormon/Lesson Six

Table of Contents



A FairMormon Analysis of:
Book of Mormon: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual

Lesson 6: Free to Choose Liberty and Eternal Life

Lesson 6: Free to Choose Liberty and Eternal Life

1. Lehi exhorts his sons to repent, obey the Lord’s commandments, and put on the armor of righteousness. (2 Nephi 1:)

Helpful Insights

  • The Promised Land: Lehi prophecies about the promised land, focusing on the blessings and consequences that come with keeping the commandments of the Lord. Making this covenant with God and prospering in the land of promise is a common theme throughout the Book of Mormon.
    • Steven L. Olsen, "Prospering in the Land of Promise," FARMS Review 22/1 (2010): 229–245. off-site wiki
    • Steven L. Olsen, "The Covenant of the Promised Land: Territorial Symbolism in the Book of Mormon," FARMS Review 22/2 (2010): 137–154. off-site wiki
  • Remembering: Lehi exhorts his sons to "remember...[and] hearken unto my words" (2 Nephi 1:12). "Remembrance" is a common theme in the Book of Mormon, and it means more than simply inner reflections, knowing the past, or recalling detailed information. Rather, to "remember" is a call to action - action that stems from realizing the meaning of past events.

Potential Criticisms

  • Did Joseph plagiarize from Shakespeare?: Some critics think that Joseph Smith plagiarized Shakespeare when Lehi uses the phrase "from whence no traveler can return" (2 Nephi 1:14) to describe death. However, the concept of death as a journey from which no one can return has a long tradition across time and throughout many cultures, including the cultural milieu of the ancient Near East, from which Lehi came from. Joseph Smith would not have needed Shakespeare to come up with that phrase, and neither would Lehi.
    • Matthew Roper, "Review of The Truth about Mormonism: A Former Adherent Analyzes the LDS Faith by Weldon Langfield," FARMS Review of Books 4/1 (1992): 78–92. off-site <--Matt Roper-->(see pages 189-191)

2. Lehi testifies of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. (2 Nephi 2:1-10)

Helpful Insights

  • The First Born: Lehi calls Jacob his "first born in the wilderness." This phrasing may suggest that Lehi viewed him as a replacement of his wicked son Laman, a practice that has precedent in the Old Testament.
    • John A. Tvedtnes, "First Born in the Wilderness," in Pressing Forward with the Book of Mormon: The FARMS Updates of the 1990s, ed. John W. Welch and Melvin J. Thorne (Provo, UT: FARMS, 1999). off-site
  • Other People: While counseling his son Jacob, Lehi stresses the importance of sharing the message of the Messiah to the "inhabitants of the earth" (2 Nephi 2:8). Since all of Lehi's family would have been aware of these important teachings from both Lehi and Nephi's preaching, and the group had not yet divided, this may allude to other people that Lehi's family had encountered in the New World. The exhortation to preach to the "inhabitants of the earth" would have been hollow if there were not people young Jacob could have specifically identified that he knew did not know of the Messiah.
  • Grace and Works in LDS Thought: The Book of Mormon offers a treasure of insight into grace, works, relationship, and salvation. The following articles explore some of these issues.
    • John Gee, "The Grace of Christ," FARMS Review 22/1 (2010): 247–259. off-site wiki
    • Louis Midgley, "Editor's Introduction: The Wedding of Athens and Jerusalem: An Evangelical Perplexity and a Latter-day Saint Answer," FARMS Review 21/2 (2009): xi–xliv. off-site wiki (scroll down to the section entitled "Mormons and Grace")
    • David L. Paulsen and Cory G. Walker, "Work, Worship, and Grace: Review of The Mormon Culture of Salvation: Force, Grace and Glory by Douglas J. Davies," FARMS Review 18/2 (2006): 83–177. off-site wiki

Potential Criticisms

  • Nature of God: Lehi explains to Jacob that "the Spirit is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (vs 4), a doctrine Lehi points out to explain why God has manifested himself to Jacob just as he does to people of other ages. This is not in contradiction with other LDS ideas that suggest that God, including Jesus Christ, has learned and progressed through the eternities.

3. Lehi teaches the importance of opposition and the freedom to choose good from evil. (2 Nephi 2:11-30)

Helpful Insights

  • Lehi's influence on Jacob: Lehi, though unable to convince his older sons to follow the Lord, was very successful with both Nephi and Jacob. The speeches and writings of Jacob clearly show that he remembered the admonitions given to him by his dying father and that he shared Lehi's teachings—including some of his verbiage—with other members of the family.
    • John A. Tvedtnes, "The Influence of Lehi's Admonitions on the Teachings of His Son Jacob," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 3/2 (1994): 34–48. off-site wiki
  • Procreation, Death, and Adam and Eve: Thoughtful Latter-day Saints have long discussed the meaning of the Fall in regard to procreation, death, and evolution. Was there procreation and death before the Fall? Is evolution compatible with belief in Adam and Eve? Latter-day Saints fall on all sides of these issues. It is important to remember that the Church has no official position on these questions and that Latter-day Saints are free to study the issue and form their own conclusions. We do not need to ignore or malign scientific perspectives on evolution and death.
  • Free Agency and Opposition in LDS Belief: Latter-day Saints have a strong belief in the agency of man. The following articles explore this issue.

Potential Criticisms

  • Lehi's theology of the Fall: Some critics suggest that Lehi's theology of the Fall of Adam and Eve is not representative of ancient Israelite thinking. However, an examination of the development of the Fall narrative in ancient Israel reveals that it went through a number of generational revisions and reinterpretations, and that Lehi's take on the Fall fits well with other prophets from his time and place.
    • Bruce M. Pritchett Jr., "Lehi's Theology of the Fall in Its Preexilic/Exilic Context," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 3/2 (1994): 49–83. off-site wiki

Chiasms and Other Poetic Parallelisms in 2 Nephi 1-2:

The Book of Mormon contains a number of literary structures called poetic parallelisms, chiasmus being the best known. While these are frequently used as evidence for the Book of Mormon’s authenticity, their real value is in helping shed light on the meaning and message in the text. The following passages contain examples of these structures from chapters being covered in this lesson. If you are planning on using any of these passages in your lesson, it may be worthwhile to check these structures to see if they help emphasize or focus attention on the message you hope to convey, or if they provide an alternative perspective you had not considered before which may enhance your lesson. For the sake of space, the references can only be listed here. To look at these structures, see Donald W. Perry, Poetic Parallelisms: The Complete Text Reformatted, which is graciously provided online for no charge (you have to go to the PDF file) by the Neal A. Maxwell Institute.