As I decided to begin reading the Book of Mormon a week and a half ago, I’ve already reached 2 Nephi. One thing that I noticed that I had never paid any mind to before was the sheer number of times that it spoke of hell. Now I haven’t read the Bible since high school, but I don’t even recall it speaking of the need to be righteous “or else hell” as much as the first book in the Mormon text has.
When speaking of heaven and hell in the Mormon church, we don’t even use those words, generally speaking. We speak of the “Plan of Salvation” which takes us from the pre-mortal life, through the veil of forgetfulness, to the mortal life. Then after we die, we’re resurrected and judged then sent to one of three places: the Celestial Kingdom where one lives on with God, the Terrestrial Kingdom, and the Telestial Kingdom.
No where do they speak of “heaven” or “hell” during this discussion, so I was surprised to see it mentioned so many times (nearly ten by my estimate) just within the first book. It made me think of something that my younger sister said recently as she was visiting other churches and what she noticed about their sermons in comparison to what we grew up hearing at church on Sundays.
Their messages were filled with hope and love, while those at the Mormon church were always filled with guilt and stressed repentance because we’re sinners. Now thinking about the Book of Mormon as a piece written by Joseph Smith rather than as a divine revelation, and knowing a little about him, it makes sense that hell would be so prevalent in this book of his.
We’re talking about the man that didn’t look favorably on dancing and who said that excessive laughing was a bad thing because it’s “irreverent”. There’s a lot more that I have to say about him, but that will have to wait for another time.
The Scathing Atheist made points that I never would have thought of with their first visit of the book in their show (distance from Jerusalem to the Red Sea, for instance). And their “Mormonpiece Theater” (if I recall correctly what they called it) was an accurate portrayal of the first eleven chapters and the most hysterical bit I’ve heard so far.
But then, I may be biased on that given my inside view of it.