Friday, July 29, 2005


Moroni I -- Chief Captain

At 25 years of age, Moroni became the chief captain of all the Nephite armies. This appointment probably occurred sometime in advance of Zerahemnah's campaign against the Nephites when
Moroni is first mentioned.1 Not only did the chief captain command all of the military forces, he also possessed complete authority over all aspects of the defense of the nation.

"Now, the leader of the Nephites, or the man who had been appointed to be chief captain over the Nephites--and his name was Moroni; And Moroni took all the command, and the government of their wars. And he was only twenty and five years old when he was appointed chief captain over the armies of the Nephites." Alma 43:16-17.

Ascension to the office of chief captain did not occur simply through military rank advancement, nor simply by appointment of the chief judge. Advancement to chief captain also required direct election by the people.

"Now, Moroni being a man who was appointed by the chief judges and the voice of the people, therefore he had power according to his will with the armies of the Nephites, to establish and to exercise authority over them." Alma 46:34.

His authority over the armies came directly from the people. The people had bestowed upon Moroni the sole authority in all matters concerning the military and the conduct of the wars. ... It is probable that the chief judge, with the cooperation and direction of the top military leaders, nominated one or more candidates for the post of chief
captain and the people then voted to accept or reject the nominee(s). However, the appointment was not merely a political reward confirmed by a popularity contest.

"Now it was the custom among all the Nephites to
appoint for their chief captains, (save it were in their times of wickedness) some one that had the spirit of revelation and also prophecy;"
3 Nephi 3:19.

Moroni attained the position of chief captain through exemplary performance, superior and unswerving duty to his country, the confidence of the political leaders with whom he worked, and the
trust of his countrymen.

... The chief captain, as Moroni
demonstrated, had powers which included: (1) the allocation of arms, provisions, and reinforcements; (2) the appointment of captains over each army group; (3) the requisition of men and materials; (4) the selection of sites for cities and forts
without pandering to sectional preferences; (5) the suspension of laws and liberties temporarily to protect the nation from internal dangers during war; and (6) determining the fate and handling of prisoners. Such powers in the hands of one man who
was not committed to freedom and righteousness could have resulted in a dictatorship. Indeed, many of Moroni's adversaries sought just this type of power in order to bring the rest of the Nephites into bondage under their rule.

1. Zerahemnah led the Lamanites against the Nephites in the eighteenth year of the reign of the judges (18 RJ) (approximately 74 B.C.). The scriptures do not report whether Moroni was
appointed chief captain in that year as a result of the defection of the Zoramites to the Lamanites and the ensuing Lamanite agitation, or whether he had been appointed previously. Either alternative is possible. However, two items in the scriptures
imply the appointment may have been made some years or some length of time prior to Zerahemnah's Campaign. First, when Moroni is first mentioned in Alma 43:16, the scriptures report that he was the man "who had been appointed to be the chief
captain" rather than the man "who was appointed" or the man "who the people appointed." The past perfect tense used in this verse implies that Moroni's appointment to the post of chief
captain pre-dated the actions of Zerahemnah who "appointed" Zoramites and Amalekites as captains over the Lamanites. The second implication that Moroni may not have received his appointment in 18 RJ is that his death is reported in Alma 63:3 as occurring in 36 RJ (approximately 56 B.C.), eighteen years later. Additionally, Alma 62 shows that Moroni yielded up command of the armies to Moronihah sometime between 32 RJ (60 B.C.) and 35 RJ (57 B.C.). In other words, if Moroni received
the office of chief captain in 18 RJ at age 25, he would have been between 39 and 42 years of age when he retired and would have died at the age of 43. Consider that Alma the Elder died at age 82
(Mosiah 29:45) and Mosiah died at age 63 (Mosiah 29:46), it is not unreasonable to believe that a normal lifespan might have been 60 years or more. Therefore, barring unreported health problems, Moroni had likely attained several years beyond 43
years of age when he died. (Although the strain of a soldier's life and wounds received during that time could have contributed to shorten his life significantly). Accordingly, Moroni may have
been in his late twenties or even into his thirties at the time of Zerahemnah's campaign. Moroni's age at the time of Zerahemnah's campaign in no way detracts from the significance of his appointment to the office of chief captain at an early age
nor his accomplishments after his appointment.

Thursday, July 28, 2005


Moroni I prelude

The Book of Mormon does not relate the personal events concerning Moroni's youth, upbringing, or familial circumstances. However, we must imagine that his parents taught him faith in Jesus Christ, the necessity of the atonement, and the principle
of repentance, as well as the relationship of these principles to the mosaic law as it was practiced by the Nephites. What has been written about Moroni suggests that his parents instilled in the youth a sense of social responsibility as well as gratitude
to the Lord for his freedom and circumstances. Certainly, Moroni learned about goals and the need to persevere in a work, ignoring the temptation of immediate or temporary gratification offered by
wicked or unchallenging endeavors. He had read, or listened to the reading of the scriptures and had committed some to memory. See Alma 46:23-27. He learned about the sanctity of covenants from his parents' teachings and the words of the prophets. His episodes of righteous anger at the wicked, obstinate adversaries and a slothful government hint at a short temper which may have troubled him as a child. He may have had to overcome a hot temper and intolerance for those slow to comprehend basic truths
or lacking in appreciation. If so, he most assuredly became the master of his emotions as he grew older. He learned obedience for authority and respect for the necessity of a free and democratic form of government.

Moroni also witnessed, and perhaps participated in the conflict instigated by Amlici and his rebel followers. The charismatic Amlici and those who desired to make him a king over the Nephite people had first attempted to seize power through the
ballot box, then by the sword, and finally by resort to the might of foreign armies. Moroni observed and understood this wicked pattern. He also knew of the death and destruction which accompanied such unbridled lust for power. Additionally, Moroni
saw--and may have assisted--as Alma, the prophet of God, head of the church and chief judge of the Nephite people, led the Nephite armies against the dissenters and the Lamanites. Likewise, Moroni was aware that Alma used spies to keep track of enemy
movements. Moroni knew of Alma's personal courage and faith, evidenced as the prophet of God engaged Amlici in personal combat during the midst of battle and called upon the Lord for strength. Alma 2:30. Finally, Moroni witnessed Alma's abdication from the
office of Chief Judge in order to devote his full attention to his calling as High Priest over the church so that he might, without distraction, better work to perfect the Nephite saints.

The teachings of his parents, the Amlicite attack upon the freedoms of his people and the living example of Alma, prophet and stalwart man of God, prepared and shaped Moroni for service to his people as a polished shaft in the quiver of the Lord.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


Captain - Moroni - Preface

The following is the preface of a manuscript that I wrote several years ago about Captain Moroni. I may eventually post the whole thing here, or maybe just excepts


With the exception of Jesus Christ, few individuals who did not actually write upon the gold plates play as prominent a role in a significant portion of the Book of Mormon as Moroni--commonly called Captain Moroni for his calling as Chief Captain of the Nephite armies. His devoted service to the cause
of freedom and the preservation of his religion, family, nation, and people make up the greater part of nearly 20 chapters of the Book of Mormon. Moroni is first mentioned in Alma 43:16 when we learn that he was appointed chief captain of all the Nephite
armies at the age of 25. He led the armies and directed the defense of his nation for at least 17 years. These years were filled with incessant conflict. The Lamanites, incited by angry
Zoramites and wicked Nephite dissenters, initiated several bloody campaigns against the Nephites throughout this period. In conjunction with these campaigns, factions led by ambitious and
vain individuals severely weakened the Nephite nation and brought the nation to the very brink of destruction. Moroni confronted each threat, uniting his countrymen beneath the Title of Liberty
in defense of their freedom, religion, families, and nation.

Moroni's great zeal in the cause of freedom and dedication to his faith, fused with intense personal energy and charisma, inspired the Nephites to rally to his banner, covenanting with the Lord
before Moroni to fight to maintain their rights and religion or to be destroyed. Indeed, Moroni's energy and steadfast faith were so significant in the cause of freedom that, although he was
never identified as a prophet or church leader, Mormon pays him high compliment:

"Yea, verily, verily, I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men." Alma 48:17.

It should be our endeavor to likewise render enduring
service for the sake of freedom and righteousness. Yet Moroni is a figure painted in such heroic proportions that the task of emulating so noble an individual may seem beyond our capabilities. Even though we cannot shrink or compress the mighty works of Moroni to fit some myopic vision of our own
abilities, we can, with effort, expand our knowledge and understanding of our Father in Heaven and our Savior Jesus Christ and our relationship to these Divine Beings and thereby magnify our vision and our abilities. Therefore, this work is predicated
upon the fact that we are the children of our Heavenly Father and that through faith in our elder brother Jesus Christ, The Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh, who died and was resurrected, and who made possible our repentance by his infinite
atonement, we can return to our Heavenly Father and become like unto Him. If we can become like our Heavenly Father, we can follow the example of the Savior and the examples of those like Moroni who faced times and circumstances which differed from the
times and circumstances which the Savior faced but who nevertheless lived what must be termed Christ-like lives. Thus, by following the example of Moroni, we are also following an example consistent with the example of Jesus Christ.

In harmony with our pursuit of Christ's example, this work examines Moroni's accomplishments and the qualities that he exhibited so that we can improve ourselves, our families, and our nations. This examination of Moroni's life will help us to
achieve an understanding of Moroni, his challenges, motivations and accomplishments, and thereby emblazon upon the fleshy tablets of our hearts the desire to emulate his righteous works.

Part One of this work relates the events and accomplishments of Moroni's life. Part One includes some commentary and thoughts on the application of the events to our lives and also periodically reviews the elements of Moroni's character as
manifested by a particular set of events. Part Two examines the example of Moroni and other righteous figures and discusses how we might emulate those examples. Part Three presents a discussion of the elements of Moroni's character with brief notes
about Moroni's companions in the defense of liberty and about the individuals who threatened that liberty.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


Legacy v. The Work & The Glory

I have previously posted about my disappointment with W&G. My oldest daughter likes W&G because she thinks it has good-looking guys in it. She doesn't think Legacy has anyone attractive in it. (Remarkably high and significant standards that she has, no?) My son says that W&G is long and boring but I have not heard him offer an opinion on Legacy. I watched Legacy for the first time in several years this past weekend. Other websites contain complaints about the lame story and poor acting in Legacy as compared to W&G. I will admit that the acting in Legacy will not win high praise and the story is somewhat choppy as it follows the important events of the subject family and events in church history. However, Legacy does not disappoint me; it delivers what I expect from such a film. In addition to being at least an hour shorter than W&G (that's just my estimate as I cannot remember the running time of W&G, but Legacy is less than an hour long) and spanning a greater time period during the restoration, Legacy speaks to the spirit--something I did not get from W&G--and that is the key feature for me.

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