The Doctrine of Resurrection in the Book of Mormon

Abstract: The doctrine of resurrection was taught by Lehi and Jacob among the first Nephites but was not mentioned again in the record until the time of Abinadi, perhaps 350 years later. In the court of King Noah that doctrine and the idea of a suffering Messiah who would bear the sins of his people and redeem them, were heresies and Abinadi paid for them with his life. While Abinadi’s testimony converted Alma1 and the doctrine of the resurrection inspired Alma2 after his conversion, it was a source of schism in the church at Zarahemla along lines that remind us of the Sadducees at Jerusalem. The doctrine of the resurrection taught in the Book of Mormon is a precursor to the doctrine now understood by the Latter-day Saints in the light of modern revelation. One example is that the Nephite prophets used the term first resurrection differently than we do. But perhaps the most remarkable thing about the way that the doctrine of resurrection develops in the Book of Mormon, is that it develops consistently. That consistency bears further testimony to the prophetic mission of Joseph Smith. He could not have done that by himself. Continue reading

Three Streams of Gratitude for Jesus

Note from the editors: In remembrance of the Easter celebration of Jesus’ victory over death, we are pleased to offer this specially written contribution from Mitt Romney.

Three streams of gratitude for Jesus have arisen during my lifetime. The first crested when as a child, fearing polio or tornadoes or intruders, I learned that “Jesus loves me.” Not only did “the Bible tell me so,” but also my mother and my Bishop. I felt Jesus looking down on me, protecting me, caring for me, answering my prayers. As life progressed, I came to learn that Jesus would not always intervene to shield me from the trials and travails of life, but I knew that He loved me and cared.

As a young man, it was the felicity of His gospel that grew in my heart. I was poised to make choices that would determine my mortal happiness. He had taught that love, family, friends, and service were the real currency of joy. With faith in that gospel, I married, raised children, nourished friendships, and endeavored to serve. And so the wealth in my heart grew beyond my imagining.

Now, approaching my autumn years, it is His victory over death that most captivates me. For sixty or so years of Easter Sundays, I have sung “He is Risen,” but for most of those years, I somehow felt that there was no real end in sight to my earth-bound life. Now, however, His condescension to live in mortality, to carry my sins, and then to rise to immortality is no longer just a chapter of doctrine, it is a gift of such magnitude that I cannot find sufficient words to express my gratitude. From the dark of never-ending nothingness, of eternal blindness, and of infinite absence from my family, He opens my eyes, my mind, and my heart. That He rose from the dead is His greatest gift of all.

The Sibling Scandals of the Resurrection

I’ve recently picked Stephen T. Davis’s Risen Indeed: Making Sense of the Resurrection up again.1 It’s an impressive book that had a pivotal effect on my thinking when it first appeared. Davis, the Russell K. Pitzer Professor of Philosophy at Claremont McKenna College in California, argues that “Christians are within their intellectual rights in believing that Jesus was raised from the dead.”2 “The thesis of the book,” he explains, “is that the two central Christian resurrection claims — namely, that Jesus was bodily raised from the dead and that we will all be raised from the dead — are defensible claims.”3 Continue reading

The Apocryphal Acts of Jesus

Abstract: Numerous noncanonical accounts of Jesus’s deeds exist. While some Latter-day Saints would like to find plain and precious things in the apocryphal accounts, few are to be found. Three types of accounts deal with Jesus as a child, his mortal ministry, or after his resurrection. The Jesus of the infancy gospels does not act like the Jesus of the real gospels. The apocryphal accounts of Jesus’s ministry usually push a particular theological agenda. The accounts of Jesus’s post-resurrection teaching often contain intriguing but bizarre information. On the whole, apocryphal accounts of Jesus’s ministry probably contain less useful information for Latter-day Saints than they might expect. Continue reading