Moroni 8 is an epistle (letter) Mormon wrote to his son Moroni about why little children do not need baptism. In the epistle, Mormon also taught about how we can prepare to dwell with God. He concluded by expressing concern for the wickedness and impending destruction of the Nephites. Moroni 9 contains Mormon’s final recorded epistle to his son. He expressed sorrow for the wicked state of the Nephites and urged Moroni to labor diligently to help the Nephites repent. Notwithstanding the corrupt situation of his people, he encouraged his son to be faithful in Christ and to let the promise of eternal life rest on his mind forever.
Have you ever wondered why children in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are not baptized until they are eight years old? In a letter written to his son Moroni, Mormon taught some important truths about the salvation of little children and baptism, including why children aren’t baptized until they are eight years old. Mormon began his letter to Moroni by talking about a disputation (disagreement) the Nephites were having. Read Moroni 8:4–6, and look for the doctrine the Nephites were disputing about. (As you read, it might be helpful to know that gross in this context means extremely serious.)
Read Moroni 8:7, and identify what Mormon did when he heard of this problem. The Savior answered Mormon’s prayer by explaining why little children do not need baptism before the age of accountability. Read Moroni 8:8–9, and look for what the Savior said about why infants and little children are not baptized.
In Moroni 8:8, the “curse of Adam” refers to Adam’s separation from God’s presence as a result of the Fall. Evidently, some Nephites did not understand the doctrine of baptism. Therefore, they incorrectly believed that little children were unworthy to be in God’s presence without the ordinance of baptism, and they wanted to baptize children when they were very young. In understanding this verse, it may also be helpful to note that sin is “willful disobedience to God’s commandments” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Sin,” scriptures.lds.org). To understand the doctrine in this verse more fully, you may want to cross-reference Moroni 8:8 with the second article of faith.
Read Moroni 8:10, and look for words that complete the following truth: Repentance and baptism are necessary for all who ____________________________________________________________________________________________________.
Because repentance and baptism are necessary only for those who are accountable and capable of committing sin, Mormon taught that it is wrong to baptize little children before they are accountable. Read Moroni 8:11–13, 18–22, and look for Mormon’s explanation of why baptism of little children is wrong. These verses teach this doctrine: Little children are saved through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
The Lord has set the age when accountability begins—eight years old (see D&C 68:25–27; Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 17:11 [in Bible appendix]). Before children turn eight, they cannot sin because Satan is not given power to tempt little children (see D&C 29:46–47). Any mistakes children make before the age of eight are not considered sins.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained why little children cannot commit sins: “We understand from our doctrine that before the age of accountability a child is ‘not capable of committing sin’ (Moro. 8:8). During that time, children can commit mistakes, even very serious and damaging ones that must be corrected, but their acts are not accounted as sins” (“Sins and Mistakes,” Ensign, Oct. 1996, 65).
As part of his epistle, Mormon also testified that little children are “alive in Christ” and that if they die before they are eight years old, they are redeemed through the Atonement of Jesus Christ (see Moroni 8:12–15, 22).
While explaining why infants and little children do not need baptism, Mormon testified of this principle: God is perfectly just in His dealings with His children. This means God will ensure that everyone has a just and fair chance to receive salvation.
The following activity can help you learn to explain the doctrines taught in the first part of Moroni 8. Select one (or both) of the situations below and, in your scripture study journal, identify one or two verses from Moroni 8:8–24 that help answer the person’s concern in the situation. Then write a paragraph or two responding to the situation. Use the scripture verses in your response.
As a missionary, you meet a man who is sincerely seeking truth. He explains that all his life he was taught that little children are sinful when they are born because of Adam’s transgression. He is certain that when infants die without being baptized, they are sinful and cannot be saved.
A recent convert agrees that baptism for eight-year-old children is a good idea but asks, “It doesn’t really matter if people are baptized when they are eight months old, or eight years old, does it?”
After teaching why little children do not need baptism, Mormon taught that people who have reached the age of accountability must be baptized. He also explained what we must do after our baptism in order to dwell with God.
Read Moroni 8:25–26, and look for what we must do and the characteristics we must develop in order to dwell with God. You might want to mark these things in your scriptures. It may be helpful to understand that “meekness” means being submissive to God’s will, and “lowliness of heart” means being truly humble.
The following questions will help you better understand Moroni 8:25–26. Consider all of the questions, and then select two or more of them to answer in your scripture study journal:
Why do you think that receiving a remission of your sins can lead to meekness and lowliness of heart?
How can being meek and lowly of heart invite the Holy Ghost into your life?
How will having the Holy Ghost help you prepare to live with God?
Mormon taught that if we want to be filled with love that endures, we must pray diligently. Why do you think that diligent prayer is necessary if we want to be filled with love?
As recorded in Moroni 8:27, Mormon condemned the sin of pride among the Nephites. Read Moroni 8:27, and look for the result of the Nephites’ pride. Then compare this result with the results of being meek and lowly of heart, found in Moroni 8:26.
Mormon encouraged Moroni to pray for the Nephites so that perhaps they might repent and receive the blessings he described in his letter (see Moroni 8:28–30). Using Mormon’s counsel to his son, consider praying for specific individuals you know who need to receive the blessings of the gospel, and seek to find ways to help those individuals.
Recall a time when you tried to help someone and that person rejected your efforts. How might some people respond when their good intentions are repeatedly rejected by those they are trying to help? As you study Mormon’s second epistle to his son Moroni, found in Moroni 9, look for what Mormon said to encourage his son not to give up on the Nephites.
Read Moroni 9:1, and look for the word Mormon used to describe the situation he would discuss in his letter. Note that grievous in this context means extremely disturbing. As recorded in Moroni 9:2–19, Mormon described some of the disturbing things taking place among the people, showing how wicked the people had become. Like Ether, who was a prophet among the Jaredites, Mormon witnessed the anger and wickedness that had overcome his people. He feared that the Spirit of the Lord had ceased striving with them (see Moroni 9:4).
Ponder why Mormon continued to labor among the Nephites even though they had hardened their hearts toward the word of God and rejected the prophets’ efforts to help them.
Mormon gave Moroni some powerful counsel about how he should minister to people whose hearts were not open. Read Moroni 9:3–6, and mark words or phrases that teach this principle: We are to labor diligently in God’s service even if those we serve do not respond positively. Verse 6 is particularly helpful in teaching this principle.
Think about recent events in your community, nation, or world that people might feel discouraged about. Read Moroni 9:25–26 to discover the counsel Mormon gave to Moroni about what to do in discouraging circumstances.
Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal: What did Mormon tell Moroni ought to “rest in your mind forever”? (Moroni 9:25). How can remembering the Savior and His Atonement help you when you are in difficulty or surrounded by wickedness?
From Mormon’s counsel to Moroni, we can learn this principle: If we are faithful in Jesus Christ, He can lift us up even when difficulties and wickedness surround us. Being “faithful in Christ” can mean striving at all times to act like a true disciple of the Savior, remembering the Savior and His Atonement, and faithfully keeping His commandments.
In your scripture study journal, write about an experience in your life or in the life of someone close to you that demonstrates that the preceding principle is true.
Think about one way you can be more faithful in Christ when you are surrounded by wickedness or difficult circumstances.
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Moroni 8–9 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: