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Matthew 22:21 They say unto him, Cæsar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.
While the Book of Mormon does contain explicit warnings about the more sinister elements of the state—secret combinations—it also has profound insights and warnings about the more elementary aspects of Caesar, such as taxation, oppression of others, and authority. One such Book of Mormon narrative is also described in the Bible: the propensity of people to exploit power for their benefit at others’ expense. Just as Samuel warned the children of Israel that embracing secular rule (in their case, through a king) would result in heavy taxation and pseudo-enslavement, the Nephite record is replete with similar examples, documenting the downsides of Caesarean power structures.
A superficial takeaway from this section of scripture would be that selfrule is superior to top-down governance, and therefore systems of government such as a constitutional republic with voter representation are sufficient, if not ideal. But the Book of Mormon says otherwise; what was before a relatively peaceful existence under Nephite monarchy devolved into a story of turbulence and violence. From the time that Mosiah instituted the “reign of the judges” until Christ’s post-resurrection arrival, there are fifteen major war campaigns recorded. Most readers seem to believe that the war-soaked pages of the book of Alma feature an us-versus-them campaign, wherein wicked Lamanites constantly fight the righteous Nephites.
A common thread among all fifteen of these wars is that they were instigated by dissenting Nephites who aspired for power, broke away from the group and through various means incited the Lamanites to riot and war against the Nephites. In light of this pattern, it becomes clear that the Lamanites had largely become pawns in a war of propaganda, corralled and controlled by power-seeking authoritarians. The fifteen provocations are:
If the descriptions of these events truly are “as current as the morning newspaper,” then it follows that these details, and their implications about political power, deserve heightened attention. Mormon’s inclusion of these wars implies that our threats are no different than those his country faced. He and his son tell us in no uncertain terms that the conspirators, tied together with their common philosophy, caused the destruction of two entire societies, and issue a clarion call at the end of their record nearly begging us to pay attention and learn from past mistakes.
The Book of Mormon tells us in plain language and through repeated examples that our biggest threats are amongst us, rather than in distant lands. “Ye hear of wars in far countries,” the Lord says, “and you say that there will soon be great wars in far countries, but ye know not the hearts of men in your own land.” It is easy to believe that the evil Lamanites were the Nephites’ real problem, and thereby infer that today’s threats are similarly external, but this requires mental gymnastics that the scriptures do not support. Instead, “there are within the very borders of [our own country] those who . . . would force upon us the same type of government that Lucifer advocates in the councils of heaven.” Satan can do from within that which he cannot do from without. This is how secret combinations operated in the Jaredite and Nephite nations, and it is precisely because of political power and Caesarean control of others that they were able to dominate and destroy.
Author Connor Boyack brings up that by using propaganda, various leaders and institutions made the Nephites and Lamanites quarrel with each other causing riots and wars. Having these two parties hate each other DUE to this propaganda, it led to ultimately the destruction of those civilizations. Does this sound familiar?
What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comments!
** The following was taken from Christ Vs Caesar: Two Masters, One Choice by Connor Boyack. The opinions and views expressed herein belong solely to Connor Boyack and do not necessarily represent the opinions or views of Cedar Fort, Inc.