Friday, March 25, 2022

Destruction, Part 5: Destroyed

And now we can behold the decrees of God concerning this land, that it is a land of promise, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God or they shall be swept off when the fullness of his wrath shall come upon them. ... Wherefore, he that doth possess it shall serve God or shall be swept off, for it is the everlasting decree of God. ... And it is not until the fullness of iniquity among the children of the land that they are swept off. 

—Ether 1:7 RE

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 |Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8

The Book of Mormon text contains around 400 occurrences of some form of the word “destroy” or “destruction.” It’s an incredibly common theme, and not surprisingly so, given that the text recounts the destruction of two entire civilizations as well as countless occasions of their partial destruction. So prevalent is the notion that by the second paragraph in the book, weve already encountered a warning of destruction:

For it came to pass in the commencement of the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah — my father Lehi having dwelt at Jerusalem in all his days — and in that same year there came many prophets, prophesying unto the people that they must repent or the great city Jerusalem must be destroyed. (1 Nephi 1:2 RE)

Lehi learned for himself of Jerusalem’s coming destruction in a vision when he read the following words from a book handed to him by one whose “luster was above that of the sun at noonday”:

Woe, woe unto Jerusalem, for I have seen thine abominations. Yea, and many things did my father read concerning Jerusalem: that it should be destroyed and the inhabitants thereof; many should perish by the sword and many should be carried away captive into Babylon. (1 Nephi 1:3 RE)

So it’s safe to say the prophetic theme of the whole Book of Mormon is that of a warning sent before a coming destruction. The Book of Commandments (original precursor to the Doctrine and Covenants) begins with the same theme, given in the preface to the book, which was received by revelation:

And again, verily I say unto you, O inhabitants of the earth, for I, the Lord, am willing to make these things known unto all flesh, for I am no respecter to persons and will that all men shall know that the day speedily comes; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand, when peace shall be taken from the earth and the Devil shall have power over his own dominion; and also, the Lord shall have power over his saints, and shall reign in their midst, and shall come down in judgment upon Idumea, or the world. (T&C 54:6)

Both of these prophetic scriptural prefaces intersect at the loss of peace: 

“Jerusalem must be destroyed.” Jerusalem was originally known as Salem, which is the anglicized version of “shalom,” the Hebrew word for peace. The metaphoric warning, therefore, is that peace is about to be destroyed.

“Peace shall be taken from the earth” is the warning in the Book of Commandments, “and the Devil shall have power over his own dominion.” A sober warning indeed, reinforced by a sign from heaven when the “Great American Eclipse” of 2017 crossed over 7 American cities named Salem. 

It shouldn’t escape our attention that Melchizedek’s city Salem was indeed “taken from the earth” anciently to join the City of Enoch, and will return when the Prince of Peace returns:

Melchizedek’s city of peace came because those who heard him repented. They were taken into Heaven by their repentance. They, like Enoch’s city, will return in the last days. The wicked will not survive their return. The next time there is a place where people of righteousness are taught and gathered, it will no longer be taken up to Heaven. Instead, it will allow Enoch’s and Melchizedek’s people to return. A holy city must be prepared to welcome that return. (T&C Glossary of Gospel Terms: Melchizedek)

In Post 3, we noted the Book of Mormon’s publication occurred in year 200 of the Roger Williams timeline, which is by the Book of Mormon pattern the Zenith year, when righteousness and prosperity reach their pinnacle, take a turn and begin to decline. Such is indeed a fortuitous time for a prophetic warning to be given in the form of a new book of scripture. That warning tells us of coming destruction:

Wherefore, O ye gentiles, it is wisdom in God that these things should be shewn unto you, that thereby ye may repent of your sins and suffer not that these murderous combinations shall get above you — which are built up to get power and gain — and the work, yea, even the work of destruction come upon you, yea, even the sword of the justice of the eternal God shall fall upon you to your overthrow and destruction if ye shall suffer these things to be. (Ether 3:18)

With this in mind, let’s take another look at that opening theme from the Book of Mormon. Prophets warned that “the great city Jerusalem must be destroyed.” Yet, though Jerusalem was indeed destroyed, it didn’t cease to exist. The walls were breached, important buildings were burned, the temple was looted and burned, and the nobles were carried away captive. Many were killed. But Jerusalem continued to exist, greatly diminished, populated by the poor and insignificant, scratching out their living in and around the ruined city, aware of its former glory, weeping for its desolation. “Destruction” as it relates to a city does not mean the city disappears. It remains, though fundamentally altered and weakened.

The record tells us that Alma the younger and the sons of Mosiah sought to “destroy” the church of God:

And now it came to pass that while he was going about to destroy the church of God — for he did go about secretly with the sons of Mosiah, seeking to destroy the church and to lead astray the people of the Lord contrary to the commandments of God, or even the king (Mosiah 11:26 RE)

Their method consisted of leading people astray contrary to the commandments of God by teaching falsehoods. And that’s all it takes to “destroy” true religion. If the truth can be polluted, if the doctrine can be compromised, if scripture can be altered, misinterpreted or ignored, any of these actions will compromise true religion to the point that it cannot save. It may still be called a religion, a church, a corporation or whatnot, much as salt that has lost its savor may still be called “salt” even though it is good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under the foot of men (3 Nephi 5:20 RE). In this regard, and if history is any indication, religion is among the easiest of institutions to destroy, and its adherents will continue to ignorantly practice the destroyed religion, sometimes for millennia.

The ultimate goal of destroying religion is, of course, not simply to destroy the religion, but to destroy souls. 

And the angel spake unto me, saying, Behold, the gold, and the silver, and the silks, and the scarlets, and the fine twined linen, and the precious clothing, and the harlots are the desires of this great and abominable church. And also for the praise of the world do they destroy the saints of God and bring them down into captivity. (1 Nephi 3:19 RE)

As with cities and churches, the “destruction” of a soul does not mean its complete annihilation; rather it means that soul must suffer the judgments of God. Said Jacob to his proud brethren:

And now my brethren, do ye suppose that God justifies you in this thing? Behold, I say unto you, nay, but he condemneth you; and if ye persist in these things, his judgments must speedily come unto you. Oh that he would shew you that he can pierce you, and with one glance of his eye he can smite you to the dust. Oh that he would rid you from this iniquity and abomination. And, oh that ye would listen unto the word of his commands, and let not this pride of your hearts destroy your souls. (Jacob 2:5)

In each of these cases, we’ve seen that “destruction” does not require complete annihilation, and that what is “destroyed” can continue to exist, albeit in an altered and diminished state, for quite some time. This brings us back to the example of Rochester Castle from Post 4, which was destroyed the moment the miners removed the foundation from the corner of the Southeast tower. Oh sure, the castle was still standing, the walls still shielding the garrison from stones and arrows, but the destruction was already a fait accompli, with the timing of the actual fall left as the only remaining question. 

And so we encounter the chilling notion that a people and even a nation can be destroyed and not know it. Yes, that seems odd, and yet the Book of Mormon text bears it out. Let’s consider some instructive examples. 

The prophet Ether warned Coriantumr of coming destruction:

And in the second year, the word of the Lord came to Ether that he should go and prophesy unto Coriantumr that if he would repent, and all his household, the Lord would give unto him his kingdom and spare the people. Otherwise, they should be destroyed, and all his household, save it were himself. And he should only live to see the fulfilling of the prophecies which had been spoken concerning another people receiving the land for their inheritance, and Coriantumr should receive a burial by them, and every soul should be destroyed save it were Coriantumr. And it came to pass that Coriantumr repented not, neither his household, neither the people; and the wars ceased not. And they sought to kill Ether, but he fled from before them and hid again in the cavity of the rock. (Ether 6:5 RE)

The moment Coriantumr rejected Ether’s message, he sealed the destruction of himself and his people. They were, at that moment destroyed and all that remained was the blood and carnage to complete the deed. Every word of Ether’s amazing prophecy was precisely fulfilled. And that’s just the point: once the destruction has been decreed and the conditions met for its completion, it will proceed to completion, and nothing can stop it. When the foundation has been removed, the castle will fall. There is no other way.

Let’s look at another example:

Therefore, they did combine against the people of the Lord and enter into a covenant to destroy them and to deliver those who were guilty of murder from the grasp of justice which was about to be administered according to the law. And they did set at defiance the law and the rights of their country. And they did covenant one with another to destroy the governor and to establish a king over the land, that the land should no more be at liberty, but should be subject unto kings.

Now behold, I will shew unto you that they did not establish a king over the land, but in this same year, yea, the thirtieth year, they did destroy upon the judgment seat, yea, did murder the chief judge of the land. And the people were divided one against another and they did separate one from another into tribes, every man according to his family, and his kindred, and friends; and thus they did destroy the government of the land. And every tribe did appoint a chief or a leader over them; and thus they became tribes and leaders of tribes. Now behold, there was no man among them save he had much family and many kindreds and friends, therefore their tribes became exceeding great. Now all this was done, and there were no wars as yet among them. And all this iniquity had come upon the people because they did yield themselves unto the power of Satan. (3 Nephi 3:5-6 RE)

In this example the government and the rule of law were destroyed by the murder of the chief judge. Notice there was not complete social breakdown or mass chaos, nor was there war. The people divided into tribes, and lived in some degree of peace as they rebelled against God and murdered the prophets he sent. They had already been destroyed but didn’t realize it until their annihilation in the upheavals during Christ’s crucifixion three years later.

And thus we see there is a space of time between destruction and what the Book of Mormon calls “sweeping off” or “utter destruction.” During that time, the course of destruction can be changed, but only by repentance. If the repentance is widespread and sincere, the decreed destruction is rescinded, as was the case with Ninevah when Jonah warned them. If the repentance is sparse and individual, some remnant may be led away to safety before the sweeping off, as happened with Lehi, Nephi and Mosiah, but the remaining population will be swept off.

God sends prophets and signs to warn of destruction, though they are seldom widely heeded. I believe the blood moon tetrad of 2014-2015 was God’s general warning, culminating in the final super moon sign of Jonah calling us to repent as did Ninevah. Sadly, the signs overhead were largely viewed as little more than curiosities. 

Naturally, much has changed since 2015 and our society has become alarmingly more angry, divided, ignorant, confused, fearful, and dark. I could write essay upon essay citing the absolute insanity of what we’ve become. When the way to defeat racism is by becoming hyper racist, when the way to empower women is by cheering while men in makeup defeat them in competition, when the most important qualification for a Supreme Court Justice of the United States is skin color and genitalia, and the woman nominated for that position says she cannot define the word “woman,” when an alarming majority of people are afraid to express their thoughts for fear of very real consequences, when it becomes criminal to even question mathematically impossible election results, when parents are told they have no say in, and no right to even know what their children are being taught at school regarding race and sexuality, when government and tech companies can monitor all facets of private lives without cause or warrant, when free citizens can be arrested and imprisoned without trial for simply being in a certain city on a certain day, and when religions have become the greatest champions of control instead of truth, when the government causes massive inflation by creating prodigious amounts of fiat money without creating any value, when government bureaucrats intentionally destroy huge swaths of the economy in the name of pretended climate salvation, and when choruses of billions demand war, we simply must be blind not to notice the path we’re on and the doom to which it leads. 

Wow, that was a tough paragraph to write, but theres still more, which brings us back to Roger Williams and the first amendment. 

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

In very recent times whether we realize it or not, we’ve witnessed the loss of our constitution, the rule of law, and the notion of God-given Natural Rights. Each guarantee listed in the first amendment above, though still ostensibly existing as the law of the land, has been undermined to the point of destruction. 

Freedom to Assemble and Petition

After what happened on January 6 2021, including the disturbing evidence of intentional rejection of National Guard troops, undercover FBI agents agitating the crowd, video of officers opening doors and letting people into the capitol, the unjustified shooting of a woman in the crowd by an incompetent officer, the massive, coordinated misrepresentation of this event as an “armed insurrection,” and the resulting incarceration of many citizens for over a year and counting, without a trial on the horizon, I think it’s safe to say people will be extremely hesitant to “peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” 

Evidently, violent riots, arson, theft, looting, and war on law enforcement are all ok though, as long as you espouse the cause of those in charge.

Freedom of the Press

Nearly every major press outlet is now owned or controlled by a small handful of related corporations. Overwhelming evidence demonstrates the various press outlets collude to control information, shape public opinion, and promote stories in a certain way. They don’t even attempt to hide it at this point. Smaller, independent news outlets who attempt to present an alternative viewpoint find they have no ability to reach any sort of audience because the internet and all other communication channels are controlled by the same corporations that control the news. Alternative viewpoints are de-platformed and silenced.

Every major news outlet took money from the Federal Government to suppress certain information and promote other information regarding Covid, regardless of science or reliable evidence. It was so effective that the majority of our citizens, even most healthcare workers, are utterly unaware of the overwhelming science that contradicts the approved narrative, simply dismissing it all as “anti-vax.” When the government pays to disseminate overwhelming and untrue information, we call that propaganda. Freedom of the press is a thing of the past, even without the government making any specific law to abridge it. It doesn't require aberrant laws to utterly control the press. It only requires consolidation and collusion.

Freedom of Speech

A recent survey showed a strong majority of Americans are afraid to speak their minds on a variety of topics for fear that their personal opinions may bring reprisal, punishment, loss of opportunity, loss of employment, or worse. This is a significant change from just 5 years ago. Self-censorship is now the approach of the majority of Americans. Oh sure, youre free to speak your mind, but God help you if you do. 

Likewise, as I alluded to above, every major social media platform, news outlet, and even internet service providers and mobile phone providers engage in overt censorship of opinions with which they disagree. It’s gotten to the point that even private text messages are censored. It wasn’t too long ago that “censorship” was a dirty, evil word, expressing what was done by totalitarians and dictators to exercise control, dominion and compulsion on the masses. Now it’s just another Tuesday, and few notice or care. The powerful platforms openly censor and remove anyone who departs too far from the approved messaging, regardless of truth.

Freedom of speech ostensibly exists of course, as a legal right. But free speech rights are irrelevant if nobody else can hear what you have to say, and you can’t speak without reprisal.

Freedom of Religion

In Post 2 we discussed how the freedom of religion is the foundation of all other freedoms we enjoy. This is because it inherently enshrines two important truths:

  1. The relationship between the individual and God supersedes the relationship between the individual and the state. Therefore in the realm of religion, the state has no power to dictate, demand, or deny; it must yield.
  2. All Natural Rights come to humans from God and not from the state. Therefore, because the state does not bestow Natural Rights, the state likewise cannot revoke them. The state’s sole intended function is to protect the Rights we receive from God.

Upon these two truths hangs all else. 

During the ongoing Covid issue, the war engines of big government, big business, big tech, and big pharma hurled volley after volley against the Keep of Natural Rights. Numerous laws were ignored, science was polluted, free speakers were threatened, canceled, and all but destroyed, money, politics, corporate interests and above all, control made mighty gains in the name of “the common good.” Lies were spun with wild abandon, and willing minions repeated them with foam and screeches. Definitions were rewritten. Truth was blatantly denied. But against the sturdy walls of Natural Rights, all these stones and arrows had limited effect. 

As long as the freedom of religion remained as the foundation of all Natural Rights, any who objected to the forced administration of an experimental medical treatment for a disease that represented almost no threat, yet had safe harbor. 

And now behold, I say unto you that the foundation of the destruction of this people is beginning to be laid by the unrighteousness of your lawyers and your judges. (Alma 8:6 RE)

But that all changed in the face of an unproven, experimental gene therapy, relabeled a “vaccine,” though it neither prevents people from contracting nor from spreading the disease in question (and wasnt designed to), in the name of an imaginary “greater good” that has no definition, no evidence, and no basis in reality, simply because unelected bureaucrats in positions of power decreed it to be so. The final disaster then ensued:

  • In August 2021, Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett denied a bid by students at Indiana University to block the school’s mandatory vaccine requirement over issues of bodily integrity.
  • In October 2021, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor refused to block New York City’s mandatory vaccination requirement for all public employees. 
  • October 29, 2021: The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a case brought by Maine healthcare workers seeking religious exemption to mandatory Covid vaccination.
  • November 29, 2021: Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer refused to hear an emergency petition brought by Massachusetts healthcare workers seeking religious exemption to vaccination.
  • Dec. 13, 2021: The Supreme Court rejected challenges brought by healthcare workers over New York’s refusal to allow religious exemptions to Covid vaccinations.
  • Feb 22, 2022: The Supreme Court rejected an emergency appeal by 15 New York City teachers seeking religious exemption to mandatory vaccination requirements.

The highest court in the land—the court of last resort—has now resoundingly and repeatedly declared, and therefore set precedent for all other courts, that the individual’s relationship with God NO LONGER supersedes the power of the state so long as the state makes any claim of “greater good,” no matter how specious. In practical terms, this means the following:

  • Regardless of your religious objections, the state can compel you to undergo experimental medical treatment for a disease you do not have, or face loss of your livelihood, freedom of movement, freedom of association, access to commerce, and access to medical care, among other penalties.  
  • There is no requirement that the experimental medical procedure be proven safe or effective. (In the case of covid gene therapies, it is utterly impossible to have proven such a thing because the therapies have not existed long enough to establish such a track record.) Indeed, valid science is NOT REQUIRED AT ALL, and to the extent “science” is wanted, it can be manufactured or ignored at will. Executive orders alone appear to be all that is required to strip you of your rights and take control of your body.
  • Therefore, the state has asserted, and gained, final control over your body. Since “the spirit and the body is the soul of man” the state now claims control over your soul, even in matters of personal religious observance. 
  • Therefore, the state now claims to be God, and any other god you worship is subservient to it. Please don’t fail to note the significance of this statement. There’s a new god in town, and the True and Living God has a challenger. (Ask Elijah how that ends.) 
  • This means there is effectively NO matter of conscience in which the whims of some unelected bureaucrat cannot overthrow your deepest commitments to God. Remarkably, religious leaders have led the charge into this flaming abyss! Moloch is most pleased. (I would add as an aside that following any such religious leader who promoted and assisted this catastrophe is beyond foolish; it is suicide.)
  • This is such a fundamental tectonic shift in political and religious understanding, belief and practice that nothing will ever be the same again. Normal is not coming back. Jesus is.

In practical terms, as I write this, I have lights and heat, gas in my car, food in my kitchen, and I’ll get up and go to work tomorrow. My day-to-day life continues much as it has for years, minus a few inconveniences and annoyances. The walls look solid, the roof is holding, and the Keep is well provisioned. And yet, as we’ve been distracted with lockdowns, travel restrictions, mask mandates, and an unending diet of fear porn in the media, the miners have been hard at work, sapping the strength of the final bulwark against tyranny. They have now succeeded in undermining the foundation of it all, and a single spark is all that’s required to ignite the brush, boards and bacon grease that have replaced the foundation. IT HAS CHANGED. It will ignite, it will burn, and it will fall. Great will be the fall thereof.

Our society, our rights, our government, and we as a people have been destroyed. 

Roger Williams, the “man among the gentiles” was the beginning. He laid the foundation that supported the structure for nearly 400 years. But true to the Nephite pattern, it has been destroyed in the expected time period. All that remains is the sweeping off soon to come. We may yet have a few years of relative stability in which to build a temple, but even that is in terrible jeopardy at this moment. God help us.

For as their laws and their governments were established by the voice of the people, and they who chose evil were more numerous than they who chose good, therefore they were ripening for destruction. ... For the laws had become corrupted, yea, and this was not all; they were a stiffnecked people, insomuch that they could not be governed by the law nor justice, save it were to their destruction.

—Helaman 2:15 RE

And he had sworn in his wrath unto the brother of Jared that whoso should possess this land of promise, from that time henceforth and for ever should serve him, the true and only God, or they should be swept off when the fullness of his wrath should come upon them.

—Ether 1:6 RE

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Destruction, Part 4: Keep Failing

Thus we see how quick the children of men do forget the Lord their God, yea, how quick to do iniquity and to be led away by the Evil One. Yea, and we also see the great wickedness one very wicked man can cause to take place among the children of men. Yea, we see that Amalickiah, because he was a man of cunning devices and a man of many flattering words, that he led away the hearts of many people to do wickedly, yea, and to seek to destroy the church of God, and to destroy the foundation of liberty which God had granted unto them, or which blessing God had sent upon the face of the land for the righteous’ sake. 

—Alma 21:6 RE

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 |Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8

A properly constructed castle is a formidable advantage in medieval warfare. With massive stone walls up to 12 feet thick at the base, towers, ramparts, moat, drawbridge, embattlements and protections for numerous defenders, the strongest of castles were so impenetrable that few were daring—or foolish—enough to attempt an attack.

England’s King John was one such daring fool. The brother of the popular King Richard I, John was by all accounts a terrible king, unfit for the business of ruling. Under his reign, rampant inflation sent prices soaring, while he taxed his subjects frequently and lavishly to support his wars. His awful political instincts, terrible personality, mistreatment of nobles, and habit of sleeping with the wives of his barons ultimately led to a revolt of the nobility against the king, which was only resolved when John was forced to sign the Magna Carta. 

No, actually, that didn’t really resolve anything at all, as John immediately ran to the Pope to have the Magna Carta condemned and both sides quickly broke the terms of the truce. As rebellion grew in London, rebel baron William d'Aubigny gathered knights and other nobles and took possession of the strategically important Rochester Castle, which controlled access between the European continent and London from the Southeast of England. 

King John, who had been preparing for war, assembled a powerful, mostly non-English army several thousand strong, ample supplies and weapons, five massive siege engines, and support of both the church and certain nobles. After first taking the precaution of having the rebels excommunicated, he then brought his army to Rochester on October 13, 1215 and laid siege to the mighty castle. 

The rebels, on the other hand, had at most a couple hundred men, and likely some local villagers who sought shelter in the castle walls. They were not well supplied and provisioned and apparently hadn’t thought things through very well for the long term. Pinning their hopes on a successful rebellion, they intended to hold out in the castle until King John was deposed or killed. Naturally, they refused to surrender to King John, placing their faith in the protection of the mighty castle. 

Most medieval castles consisted of an outer wall, called a curtain wall, enclosing the castle grounds, then an inner fortress called the keep, where defenders could remain protected as long as their food and weapons held out. The town of Rochester was also enclosed by a city wall, which was naturally the first to fall. 

Well “fall” might not be the correct word, because the city gates were left practically undefended. John’s army easily entered the city and set up their siege of the castle, using the adjacent cathedral as a base of operations (and also as a horse stable, which won John no points with the church.)

The initial attack consisted of the typical bombardment of the outer “curtain” wall with massive stones hurled by the siege engines, together with arrows, crossbow bolts, and flaming projectiles launched over the walls to kill as many defenders as possible. John’s army was large enough that the attackers could work in shifts, keeping up the attack around the clock. But the mighty walls easily withstood the stones, and the projectiles were random and limited in effect. So John called in his secret weapon: miners. 

Along with knights, archers, crossbowmen, infantry, engineers, and support personnel, John’s army also included 13 miners, or “sappers” from the Forest of Dean, specifically recruited and well paid for their unique skills. The miners set to work digging tunnels (called “saps”) under the wall, and in short order the wall was breached and the attackers gained access to the castle courtyard, or “bailey” while the defenders retreated to the keep. 

The imposing keep rose over 100 feet high, with 3 stories and a basement, mighty towers at all four corners, and ample locations for defenders to fire arrows, crossbows, hurl stones, pour burning oil, and otherwise repel attackers. As before, continual bombardment by the siege engines had no effect on the walls, so John turned again to his miners. They set to work and dug a sap under the Southeast corner of the keep, removing the foundations of the tower and setting wooden supports in place of the stones they removed. John then famously sent the following order to London: “Send to us with all speed by day and night forty of the fattest pigs of the sort least good for eating to bring fire beneath the tower.” Upon arrival, the pigs were immediately slaughtered for their fat.

The miners filled the tunnel with timbers, brush, kindling and pig fat, then set it all on fire. The wooden supports under the tower burned away, and the massive tower fell in a mighty crash. Thousands of tons of rock tumbled to the earth, creating a gaping breach through which the attackers stormed into the keep. The defenders held out a few more days in the other half of the keep, which was protected from invaders by a massive stone wall, but ultimately surrendered when their food ran out and they had eaten all their horses. 

It took King John’s mighty army nearly two months to breach the castle keep, and even then they only won by starving out the rebels. Of the siege, the Barnwell chronicler wrote “No one alive can remember a siege so fiercely pressed and so manfully resisted” and that, after it, “There were few who would put their trust in castles.”

From this vignette we can learn the origins and uses of a couple of words we ought to consider. 

First, the process of mining under the foundations of a wall or tower is known as “undermining,” meaning quite literally what it says. It doesn’t matter how mighty the wall or how tall the tower. Once the foundation has been undermined, height and mass become liabilities rather than assets. Without a foundation, even the mightiest fortress will fall. 

Second, the older term for this process, originating from old French and still in use during John’s siege of Rochester is “sapping.” The sappers dug a sap under the foundation to cause its fall. As any architect can tell you, the strength of any building starts with its foundation, and if that foundation is compromised, the structure’s strength has been “sapped” and it will fall. 

Finally, we should note that when undermined, the wall, tower, turret or building is entirely intact up until the moment it falls. Its compromised and failing foundation is not visible, so to all appearances the defenses are intact, the walls are invincible, and the stones and arrows will have no effect. Though the castle has already been destroyed, its occupants don’t know it. The garrison inside the keep can hurl insults, mock the attackers, even taunt them a second time, with misplaced faith in their walls of stone and false security that harm cannot reach them. Then, at some point, a single spark will change everything and the structure will fall with amazing speed.

As for King John—still regarded to this day as the worst king England ever knew, and that’s really saying something—he died of dysentery the following year at age 49, having never regained his ancestral lands, solidified his rule or put down the rebellion. Though he defeated one of the mightiest stone fortresses in England, his own life ultimately ended in defeat. 

On the topic of fortresses, I defer to Martin Luther:

A mighty fortress is our God,

A bulwark never failing:
Our helper He, amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work his woe;
His craft and power are great,
And armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side,
The Man of God's own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth is his name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

(Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott, 1527, as translated by Frederic Henry Hedge)

Now, having laid this—ahem—foundation, we’ll shortly return to Roger Williams, Nephite Signposts and Destruction. More to come. 

And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation, that when the Devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless woe because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build, they cannot fall. 

—Helaman 2:17 RE

Monday, March 14, 2022

Destruction, Part 3: Four Hundred Years Passeth Not Away...

For the time cometh, saith the Lamb of God, that I will work a great and a marvelous work among the children of men, a work which shall be everlasting, either on the one hand or on the other, either to the convincing of them unto peace and life eternal, or unto the deliverance of them to the hardness of their hearts and the blindness of their minds, unto their being brought down into captivity and also unto destruction, both temporally and spiritually, according to the captivity of the Devil of which I have spoken.

—1 Nephi 3:26, RE

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 |Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8

Imagine this scenario: You’re a prophet that has seen in vision the final winding up scenes of this creation, the coming destruction of the wicked, the deliverance of the righteous, and frankly the end of the world. It saddens and sickens you to see the coming suffering, terror, sorrow and fear, yet you also know the way of escape for those who are willing to receive it. With all your heart you yearn to warn future believers of what is coming. You’ve even obtained a promise that what you write will be made available to the world in the last days, which means you have a real chance to make a difference. There’s really just one restriction; you’re not allowed to directly tell these future people any details about what’s going to happen. 

Oh sure, you can speak in generalities, but specific dates, times, places, people and events are off limits. What do you write?

The Book of Mormon is many things, but perhaps most delightfully, it is a masterpiece in prophetic creativity. “What is prophetic creativity” you ask? Well it’s a term I made up just now to refer to the brilliant efforts of the various Book of Mormon writers to reveal what we need to know while also concealing what they were not allowed to reveal. 

Let’s take Nephi as an example. If you look at 1 Nephi Chapter 3 in the Restoration Edition scriptures, you’ll learn that Nephi heard his Father Lehi’s vision and desired to see what his father saw. He took the necessary steps to qualify for this blessing, and ultimately saw much more than we’re told about in Lehi’s recounting. He frankly saw the entire future of this creation until the end, including the ministry of Christ, the great apostasy, the persecution of gospel believers, the apostate church tampering with scripture, the destruction of his posterity by the Lamanites, the scattering and destruction of the Lamanites by invading gentiles, the restoration of the gospel among the gentiles, the end of the times of the gentiles, the gathering of Israel, the destruction of the wicked and the return of the Lord. Nephi told us all he could about his vision, but then stopped short and informed us that the remainder of the vision was not his to write. That work was reserved for John, and has come to us in the book of Revelation. 

And it came to pass that I beheld that the wrath of God was poured out upon that great and abominable church, insomuch that there were wars and rumors of wars among all the nations and kindreds of the earth. And as there began to be wars and rumors of wars among all the nations which belonged to the mother of abominations, the angel spake unto me, saying, Behold, the wrath of God is upon the mother of harlots, and behold, thou seest all these things. And when the day cometh that the wrath of God is poured out upon the mother of harlots — which is the great and abominable church of all the earth, whose foundation is the Devil — then at that day the work of the Father shall commence in preparing the way for the fulfilling of his covenants which he hath made to his people who are of the house of Israel.

And it came to pass that the angel spake unto me, saying, Look. And I looked and beheld a man, and he was dressed in a white robe; and the angel said unto me, Behold one of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. Behold, he shall see and write the remainder of these things, yea, and also many things which have been; and he shall also write concerning the end of the world…And behold, the things which this apostle of the Lamb shall write are many things which thou hast seen; and behold, the remainder shalt thou see. But the things which thou shalt see hereafter thou shalt not write, for the Lord God hath ordained the apostle of the Lamb of God that he should write them…And I, Nephi, heard and bear record that the name of the apostle of the Lamb was John, according to the word of the angel. (1 Nephi 3:29-31 RE)

Nephi was a creative and inspired soul, and though he was forbidden to directly write about the end of the world, he was not forbidden to expound existing scripture. So he adopted the words of Isaiah, and used those writings to reveal much about the last days events, players, issues, problems and solutions to those who have eyes to see. He yearned for us to understand what is coming, though he couldn’t tell us directly. (For much more on this topic, see Nephi’s Isaiah by Denver Snuffer.)

Nephi’s brother Jacob did much the same thing, but he used the words of Zenos to provide big-picture information about the Lord’s purposes and efforts to gather redeemed souls into his family before the end. The allegory of the olive tree is the most sweeping, direct and all-encompassing statement of the Lord’s purposes and efforts in the last days, or the days we are now witnessing. Unable to directly prophesy of these days, he craftily said the following:

And now behold, my brethren, as I said unto you that I would prophesy, behold, this is my prophecy, that the things which this prophet Zenos spake concerning the house of Israel, in the which he likened them unto a tame olive tree, must surely come to pass. And in the day that he shall set his hand again the second time to recover his people, is the day, yea, even the last time, that the servants of the Lord shall go forth in his power to nourish and prune his vineyard. And after that, the end soon cometh. (Jacob 4:1 RE)

(Pro tip: that “day when the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover his people” is now. Today. It’s happening before our eyes.)

Christ gave the most masterful sermon ever recorded (or that we currently have access to anyhow) and used the words of Isaiah, Micah and Moses to convey information about the last days’ marvelous work and gathering of Israel. He concluded with a command that his sermon be recorded so it could be received by the last-days gentiles who would witness the end:

Write the things which I have told you, and, according to the time and the will of the Father, they shall go forth unto the gentiles. And whosoever will hearken unto my words, and repenteth and is baptized, the same shall be saved. Search the prophets, for many there be that testify of these things. (3 Nephi 10:4 RE)

Moroni used the record of the Jaredites (the book of Ether) to convey information about the issues, players, actions and motivations that would lead to our destruction, taking occasion to specifically warn us against them. 

Wherefore, O ye gentiles, it is wisdom in God that these things should be shewn unto you, that thereby ye may repent of your sins and suffer not that these murderous combinations shall get above you — which are built up to get power and gain — and the work, yea, even the work of destruction come upon you, yea, even the sword of the justice of the eternal God shall fall upon you to your overthrow and destruction if ye shall suffer these things to be. Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you, that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation because of this secret combination which shall be among you; (Ether 3:18 RE)

Mormon, who assembled the record and wrote more than anyone else, did something equally brilliant: rather than quoting ancient prophets, he instead used events from Nephite history to weave a prophetic picture of our day. Have you ever wondered why some parts of Nephite history are glossed over, with just a few sentences to cover decades or centuries, then other events are given in such detail that a matter of days may consume many chapters? It’s not random and it’s not sloppy. Mormon was an ingenious, inspired, exceptional prophet masquerading as a historian. He assembled the record with absolute intent, great care and pinpoint accuracy. He did not write a history; he, like the other prophet-writers of the Book of Mormon, wrote a prophecy. It’s about us and about our day, labored over, crafted in love and given in absolute desire to save us from what’s coming. It’s time we understood it.

Because the Book of Mormon is more prophecy than history, and because there are so many messages encoded in what’s recorded, uncovering and discussing them all is the work of a lifetime. But for our purposes today, in the context of this blog series, I’d like to focus on one specific, identical warning hidden by both Nephi and Mormon for us to discover. 

I’m indebted to Don Bradley and his excellent book, The Lost 116 Pages: Reconstructing the Book of Mormon’s Missing Stories who pointed out the pattern we’ll now discuss. (As an aside, this book really is a wonderful resource and I highly recommend it.)

We’ll call the pattern 1-200-320-400. I know, it’s not a very catchy name, but it’s accurate. Here’s how it works: Through two phases of Nephite civilization, one before Christ and one after, we see a pattern of parallel events at years 1, 200, 320 and 400. Here’s a quick outline:

Year 1: The foundation of the civilization is laid when a prophetic messenger departs his current dwelling place, guided by the spirit and bound for a promised land. The departure leads to an ocean crossing, establishment of a colony, and restoration of truth. There follows a period of increasing light, truth, safety and prosperity for the society. 

Year 200: The civilization reaches its zenith of prosperity, truth and righteousness. This is an inflection point at which decline begins.

Year 320: A watershed event takes place to increase the pace of decline and ensure destruction.

Year 400: Some remnant of the righteous flee to safety and the wicked and unfaithful are swept off. 

So with that outline in mind, let’s look at the specifics of the pattern at the two ends of Nephite Civilization. The first begins with Nephi’s departure from Jeruaslem, and the second begins with the birth of Christ:

Year 1: Departure


Nephi and his family flee Jerusalem under the guidance of the spirit. They cross the great deep and arrive at the promised land. Truth is restored, a new settlement is established, and a kingdom is created.


Christ leaves the sacred realms above, crosses the great deep, and arrives here, conceived by the Holy Ghost and born in the Israelite promised land. His teachings restore truth, establish a colony of believers, and lay the foundation of his kingdom. He is cast out of Jerusalem at his death. 

Year 200: Zenith of Civilization, Beginning of Decline


And now behold, two hundred years had passed away and the people of Nephi had waxed strong in the land. They observed to keep the law of Moses and the Sabbath day holy unto the Lord…Wherefore, we withstood the Lamanites and swept them away out of our lands…And we multiplied exceedingly, and spread upon the face of the land, and became exceeding rich in gold, and in silver, and in precious things…And it came to pass that the prophets of the Lord did threaten the people of Nephi, according to the word of God, that if they did not keep the commandments, but should fall into transgression, they should be destroyed from off the face of the land.(Jarom 1:3-5 RE)


And it came to pass that two hundred years had passed away…the people had multiplied insomuch that they were spread upon all the face of the land, and that they had become exceeding rich because of their prosperity in Christ. And now in this two hundred and first year, there began to be among them those who were lifted up in pride… and they began to be divided into classes. And they began to build up churches unto themselves to get gain…(4 Nephi 1:4-5 RE)

Year 320: Watershed Event that Hastens the Decline


…three hundred and twenty years had passed away; and the more wicked part of the Nephites were destroyed…Wherefore, the Lord did visit them in great judgment; nevertheless, he did spare the righteous, that they should not perish, but did deliver them out of the hands of their enemies. (Omni 1:3 RE)


…when three hundred and twenty years had passed away, Ammaron, being constrained by the holy ghost, did hide up the records which were sacred…And he did hide them up unto the Lord, that they might come again unto the remnant of the house of Jacob according to the prophecies and the promises of the Lord. And thus is the end of the record of Ammaron. (4 Nephi 1:9 RE)

And it came to pass in this year [321], there began to be a war between…the Nephites and the Lamanites…And it came to pass that the war began to be among them in the borders of Zarahemla by the waters of Sidon. (Mormon 1:3 RE) 

Year 400: Wicked Swept Off while a Righteous Remnant Flees


Behold, I will speak unto you somewhat concerning Mosiah, who was made king over the land of Zarahemla. For behold, he being warned of the Lord that he should flee out of the land of Nephi — and as many as would hearken unto the voice of the Lord should also depart out of the land with him into the wilderness (Omni 1:6 RE)

(Note that Mosiah’s remnant fled ahead of the complete Nephite destruction. When Zeniff returned to possess the land of Nephi, no Nephites remained, and Lamanites possessed the city and land of Nephi. The only Nephites still identified were those who had fled with Mosiah and joined the people of Zarahemla.)


Behold…, the Nephites who had escaped into the country southward were hunted by the Lamanites until they were all destroyed, and my father also was killed by them. And I, even I, remain alone to write the sad tale of the destruction of my people…Behold, four hundred years have passed away since the coming of our Lord and Savior. And behold, the Lamanites have hunted my people, the Nephites, down, from city to city and from place to place, even until they are no more; and great has been their fall. Yea, great and marvelous is the destruction of my people, the Nephites. And behold, it is the hand of the Lord which hath done it. (Mormon 4:1 RE)

As you can see from the above comparison, this very distinctive pattern occurs in very much the same way for the society established by Nephi and the one established by Christ among the Nephites. Obviously there are myriad differences along the way, but the major signposts hold. Both Mormon and Nephi put the signposts there intentionally and called out the specific years and their corresponding events because they’re trying to send us a message. They expect us to look at the 1-200-320-400 pattern and liken it unto ourselves. 


In my previous post I closed with the following three questions regarding Roger Williams, the “man among the gentiles” in Nephi’s vision:

  • Why was he shown to Nephi? 
  • Why does it matter that we understand who Nephi saw? 
  • And how might this all play into the topic of destruction?

It’s time for some answers.

Why was he shown to Nephi? 

Simply put, he was a signpost, put there in the vision and recorded in Nephi because we needed to know where to start counting our own cycle. (There are other important reasons as well, which we’ll get to later, but for today, this is what we need to know.)

Why does it matter that we understand who Nephi saw? 

Because placing the correct representative in the correct place in the timeline calibrates everything else and gives us the thundering warning we desperately need. 

And how might this all play into the topic of destruction?

Because that’s how the pattern ends. Always. It will end this way in our current cycle as well. The point of revealing the pattern is to awaken us to how little time we have left.

So let’s apply the pattern using Roger Williams as founder and see if it holds.

Year 1 [1630]: Departure

Williams departed England in December, 1630, under the direction of the spirit. He crossed the great deep, arrived at the promised land, was cast out of Salem (namesake of Jerusalem) and fled for his safety, he founded a colony, taught truth, established a free government and instigated an era of equality, freedom and prosperity. As I mentioned in the last post, more than any other, he founded America.

Year 200 [1830]: Zenith and Inflection Point

200 years after Roger Williams left England, the Book of Mormon was published—an event so marvelous and miraculous from heaven’s perspective that all else in gentile history pales in comparison. The record prepared and preserved for thousands of years to usher in the Father’s last days’ work and gather scattered Israel burst on the scene and changed the world forever. 

Of course, this is also the year an official church was established according to the laws of government, providing jealous and aspiring men the motivation and opportunity to take control and capture souls. Within just over two years, the new church was condemned by God precisely because of how they treated the Book of Mormon (see T&C 82:20). Inflection point indeed. 

Year 320 [1950]: Watershed

All the following took place in 1950:

  • The Korean War began when North Korea invaded South Korea in June. The U.S. rapidly jumped in and stayed there for 3 years, spending $30 billion and 54,000 U.S. lives. The death toll for the war was 3 million including military deaths on both sides and civilian deaths, which were greater than military deaths. This war is technically still ongoing, with a ceasefire but no formal end or resolution to the conflict. Korea has remained divided and the U.S. thirst for war has continued unabated ever since.
  • The first credit cards were issued, ushering in the era debt-fueled consumerism. Trivia: the first credit card issuer was Diner’s Club.
  • President Harry Truman sent U.S. military forces to Vietnam to aid French forces, ushering in another foreign war disaster for the U.S. The Vietnam war ultimately persisted for 20 years, costing some 1.3 million lives.
  • The NSC-68 report to President Truman recommended aggressive U.S. military expansion to counter the Soviets, ushering in the Cold War, which has waxed and waned, but remained in some form ever since. As of today, it threatens to erupt into World War III.
  • Albert Einstein spoke out about the U.S. development of the Hydrogen bomb. “If successful,” Einstein warned, “radioactive poisoning of the atmosphere, hence the annihilation of any life on earth, has been brought within the range of technical possibilities.” In response, the FBI ordered a full domestic intelligence report on Einstein and the INS began a five-year examination of the possibility of deporting him. (Incidentally, Einstein in 1948 wrote to the Polish ambassador: “I suppose you must realize by now that the U.S. is no longer a free country, that undoubtedly our conversation is being recorded. The room is wired, and my house is closely watched.”)
  • Senator Joseph McCarthy announced that “I have here in my hand a list of 205” known Communists working for the State Department, which slammed the Red Scare into high gear. Whether McCarthy was correct or not, Communism remains an existential threat to the world.

The above items, all from year 320 since Roger Williams [1950], demonstrate the sprouting seeds of economic, military and social destruction, now bearing fruit in our day. The U.S. has increasingly become proud, warlike, and economically irresponsible since that watershed year.

Year 400 [2030]: Swept Off

I’m sure you’ve already done the math—400 years from the Roger Williams signpost will be the year 2030. I’m only noting that year here to spur some thought. I’m not making any predictions or claims about 2030 or any other date. I’m simply pointing out a pattern that shows we are at the end of the line. Our time is nearly up, but there’s a lot more to the process of destruction that we need to unpack before we can even consider grappling with what the next 8 years may hold. 

Making Predictions?

I realize it’s foolish to make specific claims about dates, places and events, and I have no intention of doing so. In fact, there’s no way I would even consider writing about this topic were it not for a string of unmistakable events leading me to this point and urging me on. The Book of Mormon contains this pattern for a reason. It is specific about dates, and in his note about the “man among the gentiles” Nephi gave us an equally specific event to use as a sign post for our calendar. As I mentioned before, there’s no other reason to even mention the man. He doesn’t play into the rest of the narrative. He’s not necessary to the story. He was put there so we would ask questions. 

I did ask, and the result of my inquiry is this series.

OK, to summarize then, the 1-200-320-400 pattern is specifically shown in the Book of Mormon, not because we need to know something about the Nephites’ days, but because we need to know something about our own. Using Roger Williams’ flight from England as the starting point yields a match to our history and a dire warning to the latter-day gentiles as well as to the covenant people. Time is short, but realizing such should not lead to panic. Rather it should lead to earnest preparation for what clearly lies ahead. How might such knowledge benefit us, what should we expect, and what must we do? Why would prophets who all saw our day provide this information for us, and what do they expect us to do with it? 

Again, let me reiterate, I’m not assigning a particular date or timeline to anything in the future; I’m simply pointing out that the 400-year-cycle demonstrated so clearly in the Book of Mormon fits our current situation and is nearly at an end.

We still have much ground to cover concerning decline, destruction, turning points and hope. We also need to complete our discussion of Roger Williams, who yet has more to teach us. 

Stay tuned. 

And behold, he hath put it into my heart to say unto this people that the sword of justice hangeth over this people. And four hundred years passeth not away save the sword of justice falleth upon this people, yea, heavy destruction awaiteth this people, and it surely cometh unto this people. And nothing can save this people, save it be repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ, who surely shall come into the world, and shall suffer many things, and shall be slain for his people. And behold, an angel of the Lord hath declared it unto me, and he did bring glad tidings to my soul. And behold, I was sent unto you to declare it unto you also, that ye might have glad tidings...

—Helaman 5:2 RE

Friday, March 11, 2022

Destruction, Part 2: Most Sacred Privilege

Now there was no law against a man’s belief, for it was strictly contrary to the commandments of God that there should be a law which should bring men onto 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 16:2 RE

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 |Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8

You may not normally place Chief Governor Parhoron high on your list of scriptural authors. But he said something important and profound in his epistle to Captain Moroni:

Therefore, my beloved brother Moroni, let us resist evil. And whatsoever evil we cannot resist with our words, yea, such as rebellions and dissensions, let us resist them with our swords, that we may retain our freedom, that we may rejoice in the great privilege of our church and in the cause of our Redeemer and our God. Therefore, come unto me speedily with a few of your men and leave the remainder in the charge of Lehi and Teancum. Give unto them power to conduct the war in that part of the land according to the spirit of God — which is also the spirit of freedom — which is in them. (Alma 28:3 RE)

From the above we learn that the freedom most prized by Parhoron and Moroni was the freedom of worship, which they were both willing to defend with their lives. After all, noted Parhoron, the spirit of freedom IS the spirit of God. This is entirely in keeping with his oath of office:

Yea, he was appointed chief judge and governor over the people, with an oath and sacred ordinance to judge righteously, and to keep the peace and the freedom of the people, and to grant unto them their sacred privileges to worship the Lord their God, yea, to support and maintain the cause of God all his days (Alma 22:9 RE)

Captain Moroni cut from the same cloth when he hoisted the Title of Liberty: “In memory of our God, our religion and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children.” (Alma 21:7 RE). 

The freedom of worship is something to which you and I are so accustomed that we have difficulty even considering how recent, revolutionary, and fragile the idea is. So to gain some perspective, let’s go back to a time when the notion was considered dangerous, even seditious. Actually, we could pick nearly any time in history and find such circumstances, but for our purposes in this blog post, we’ll pick 1600’s England. 

This was a time during which the Church of England controlled all religious life and clergy in England, though multiple movements existed within the church. The Puritan movement, for example, sought to purify the church from Catholic practices. And the Separatist position demanded a complete separation of Protestantism from the Church of England, which was viewed as irredeemably corrupt.

In this environment, a young man named Roger Williams received his education, took ordination in the Church of England, became a Puritan, and began championing the Separatist position, which put him at great risk. Realizing these actions and ideas denied him any future in the Church of England, or indeed in England itself, he boarded a ship for the American colonies on December 1, 1630, bound for a new life in the Puritan settlement of Boston.

Upon arrival, Williams was offered the temporary position of Reverend at the Church of Boston, but he declined because the church was not fully “separated” from the Church of England. The Church of Salem, which had more separatist leanings made him an offer, but the Boston church objected so strenuously that the Salem church withdrew the offer. So Williams moved to the Plymouth colony and assisted in the church there. 

Trouble soon found Roger Williams in Plymouth when he realized the colony had taken land from Native Americans without paying for it. He condemned this practice and wrote a tract openly accusing King James of dishonesty, which caused quite a stir and threatened legal problems. Once this trouble passed, he found himself back in Salem as Reverend of the Salem church, but was repeatedly brought up on charges of “erroneous” and “dangerous opinions” including his beliefs that the civil government should have no authority to enforce or punish strictly religious matters, and that all people should enjoy freedom of conscience in matters of worship, without government control or demands.

After being charged and tried a number of times, Williams was finally removed from his church position by the General Court. Ultimately, he found he could no longer associate with the church and instead began worshiping in his home with likeminded believers. Finally in 1635, the General Court convicted Roger Williams of sedition and heresy for teaching “diverse, new and dangerous opinions” and ordered that he be banished from Massachusetts Bay colony. Because winter was approaching and he was ill, the court agreed to let him stay temporarily, provided he stop teaching his ideas. Naturally, he didn’t stop teaching, and upon learning the sheriff was coming to arrest him, Williams fled in a blizzard and traveled 55 miles in deep snow, finding refuge with a local Indian tribe until spring. 

When spring came, Williams and his followers found a suitable location for a new settlement outside the borders of the Massachusetts Bay land charter, and purchased the necessary lands from the Narragansett tribe. They named their new settlement Providence, based on their belief that divine providence had led them there in their exile. It still retains that name today, incidentally, and is now the capital of Rhode Island. 

What made the Providence settlement unique was that it was intentionally set up to be a haven for those “distressed of conscience.” The government of the settlement was specifically limited to civil matters and excluded from religious matters, and all citizens of the settlement were expressly granted freedom of conscience in matters of religion. Naturally, the settlement soon attracted a variety of dissenters and religious free thinkers, welcoming Jews, Quakers, Baptists and all who were elsewhere persecuted for their beliefs. All were treated as equals in matters of government and citizenship, regardless of their religious leanings.

Thus, Roger Williams founded the first place in modern history where citizenship and religion were completely decoupled from one another, providing complete religious liberty and separation of church and state. Though that may sound quite unremarkable to us now, in 1636 it was so revolutionary as to be considered seditious and heretical. Church and state power had been so intertwined for so long that the mere idea of a secular government was practically unthinkable. But Williams thought it, acted on it, and changed the world. 

Roger Williams lived a magnificent life, filled with heroic and magnanimous deeds. He learned the language of the local Narragansett tribe and published the first book ever written detailing a Native American language. In it, he stated:

Boast not proud English, of thy birth & blood;
Thy brother Indian is by birth as Good. 
Of one blood God made Him, and Thee and All,
As wise, as fair, as strong, as personal.

He earned the tribe’s trust and respect to the point that he was often called upon to keep the peace between the colonies and the Native American tribes. On more than one occasion, he pledged himself as hostage to ensure the safe return of Indian Chiefs from colonial court proceedings. 

Williams worked tirelessly to stabilize relations between the colonies, even returning to England to secure an official charter for Providence Plantations. Ultimately his efforts united Providence Plantations and Rhode Island, again under the charter of freedom of conscience. When others sought to usurp control over Indian lands or tribes, Williams fought to have them removed, at one point selling his business to pay for another trip to England, which resulted in a more secure charter, greater protection for Native people, and removal of the usurpers. 

Roger Williams opposed slavery and sought every opportunity to limit it. When the Massachusetts Bay Colony passed a law sanctioning slavery, Providence Plantations under Williams’ leadership passed laws limiting the amount of time a person could be held in slavery, bringing it in line with indentured servitude, and also sought to prevent the importation of enslaved Africans. 

By the end of his life, Roger Williams was known as the founder of Rhode Island, the founder of the Baptist church, a tremendous and gifted advocate for Native American rights, a friend and defender of marginalized groups including Jews, Quakers and others, an opponent of slavery and infant baptism, and an able preacher, governor, writer and Christian thinker. But his greatest accomplishment is summed up in the following two paragraphs I pulled from Wikipedia:

Williams was a staunch advocate of separation of church and state. He was convinced that civil government had no basis for meddling in matters of religious belief. He declared that the state should concern itself only with matters of civil order, not with religious belief, and he rejected any attempt by civil authorities to enforce the “first Table” of the Ten Commandments, those commandments that deal with an individual’s relationship with and belief in God. Williams believed that the state must confine itself to the commandments dealing with the relations between people: murder, theft, adultery, lying, and honoring parents. Williams wrote of a “hedge or wall of Separation between the Garden of the Church and the Wilderness of the world.” Thomas Jefferson later used the metaphor in his 1801 Letter to Danbury Baptists.

Williams considered the state’s sponsor of religious beliefs or practice “forced worship”, declaring “Forced worship stinks in God’s nostrils.” He also believed Constantine the Great to be a worse enemy to Christianity than Nero because the subsequent state involvement in religious matters corrupted Christianity and led to the death of the Christian church. He described the attempt of the state to pass laws concerning an individual’s religious beliefs as “rape of the soul” and spoke of the “oceans of blood” shed as a result of trying to command conformity. The moral principles in the Scriptures ought to inform the civil magistrates, he believed, but he observed that well-ordered, just, and civil governments existed even where Christianity was not present. Thus, all governments had to maintain civil order and justice, but Williams decided that none had a warrant to promote or repress any religious views. Most of his contemporaries criticized his ideas as a prescription for chaos and anarchy, and the vast majority believed that each nation must have its national church and could require that dissenters conform.

Roger Williams’ true legacy is not the Baptist Church, the city of Providence, the state of Rhode Island, the books he wrote or the lives he saved. No, it is the ideas for which he fought, suffered and labored. These very ideas, though revolutionary at the time, were inherited a century later by the founders of America and incorporated into our founding documents. The first amendment to the U.S. constitution is the direct result of the thoughts, ideas, and sacrifices of Roger Williams. 

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Such a wall as this had never been erected between religion and government on a national scale. This grand experiment in freedom of conscience is frankly responsible for all other freedoms we enjoy. 

When you think about it, freedom of worship is the most basic and fundamental freedom of all. If the power of the state stops where the individual’s relationship with God begins, then the state is permanently and properly subordinated to God and to the individual. Agency—the issue at stake from the beginning and fought for in battle before the foundation of the earth—is preserved. The value of the individual soul is greater than the value of the entire combined power and wealth of the state, and therefore all other freedoms flow from the value placed on the individual soul in the image of God. We have freedom of speech because we have freedom of conscience. We enjoy freedom of the press because we have freedom of conscience. Indeed, the freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, the right to a fair and speedy trial by a jury of peers, the freedom from cruel and unusual punishments, the right to bear arms, and even the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness all spring from this first, most inalienable, most fundamental right to an individual relationship with God—unmolested, uncoerced and uncontrolled by the government. And for that, we have Roger Williams to thank. 

In fact, I think it no exaggeration to call Roger Williams the founder of our nation. Seriously. Everything that is unique and good and godly about the highest aspirations of our founding can be traced directly to Roger Williams, who had the courage to stand against the evils and corruption of church and state, at peril of his own life, and who then acted on his principles to establish the first government and society in modern times based on those principles. If this nation was ever a city on a hill that could not be hid, it surely burned with the spirit of God, which is the spirit of freedom, brought here and established by this “man among the gentiles” who laid the firmest of foundations in our freedom of worship.

And I looked and beheld a man among the gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man, and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren who were in the promised land. (1 Nephi 3:20 RE)

He was among the gentiles, indeed among the “mother gentiles” of this nation in England (1 Nephi 3:20 RE). The spirit of God, which Captain Moroni and Parhoron correctly define as the spirit of freedom—religious freedom, to be precise—clearly wrought upon Roger Williams, causing him to go forth upon the waters and come to the promised land. He ended up in very close vicinity to the area of the final Book of Mormon battles, and therefore the remaining remnants of the Lamanites, and more than perhaps any other settler, came “unto” the seed of the Lamanites, learning their language and becoming their friend, champion, and defender. That spirit of freedom that wrought upon him throughout his life shaped the foundation and formed the underpinnings of our nation and all other freedoms we enjoy. 

I realize there are many theories as to the identity of the man shown to Nephi and that cases can be made for each candidate. I’m not interested in arguing the relative merits of the various candidates. In this introduction to Roger Williams, I have made the case that he *could* be the man—meaning, his life and history conform very well to the pattern of the man Nephi saw. But I have not yet made the case why I believe he *is* the man; we’ll come to that in future posts. For now, I’ll just state that I have good and sufficient reasons to believe that Nephi saw Roger Williams. And as I said in my last post, this matters a great deal.

And yet, there’s still more to uncover. Why was he shown to Nephi? Why does it matter that we understand who Nephi saw? And how might this all relate to the topic of destruction? Stay tuned…

God requireth not a uniformity of religion to be enacted in any civil state; which enforced uniformity (sooner or later) is the greatest occasion of civil war, ravishing of conscience, persecution of Christ Jesus in his servants, and of the hypocrisy and destruction of millions of souls.


The God of Peace, the God of Truth will shortly seal this truth, and confirm this witness, and make it evident to the whole world, that the doctrine of persecution for cause of conscience, is most evidently and lamentably contrary to the doctrine of Christ Jesus the Prince of Peace. 


—Roger Williams, The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution, for Cause of Conscience