Chapter 29

Book of Mormon Teacher Manual, (2009), 101–5


Introduction

This scripture block will help students fortify their testimonies. As they study the tactics of the anti-Christ Korihor, they will learn to recognize the tactics and philosophies of modern anti-Christs. As they study Alma’s response to Korihor, they will be prepared to defend themselves and others against those who seek to destroy their faith.

Some Doctrines and Principles

Suggestions for Teaching

Alma 30:12–18, 23–28. Anti-Christs Try to Lead People Away from God and His Prophets

Ask students to share some typical arguments people use to challenge faith in Jesus Christ. (Do not go into too much detail. Class members will discuss this further when you ask them to look at Korihor’s specific teachings.) As students share their thoughts, tell them that some people in Alma’s day tried to challenge those who believed in Jesus Christ. To help students understand that the Book of Mormon is a powerful resource to strengthen them against these challenges, ask them to read the statement by President Ezra Taft Benson on page 213 in the student manual.

  • How can studying the Book of Mormon protect us “against the evil designs, strategies, and doctrines of the devil in our day”?

During the lesson, encourage students to look for reasons why some of Alma’s people stayed faithful while others did not. Ask them to consider how the same principles apply to us today.

Invite students to read the Bible Dictionary’s definition of the word antichrist. You may also want to refer them to the commentary on page 213 in the student manual. Briefly discuss characteristics of a person or idea that could be considered anti-Christ, emphasizing the Bible Dictionary’s broad definition: “anyone or anything that counterfeits the true gospel or plan of salvation and that openly or secretly is set up in opposition to Christ.”

  • What affect can counterfeit money have on governments and individuals?

  • What does it mean to counterfeit the true gospel?

  • What are some modern-day counterfeits that pretend to offer salvation? (As you invite students to respond to this question, do not allow any discussion that is critical of other religions. Rather, ensure that the discussion helps students recognize the dangers of false philosophies and attitudes like Korihor’s.)

Explain that today they will examine a Book of Mormon account of an anti-Christ. Invite them to turn to Alma 30:12–18, 23–28. Use the following chart (either by preparing a handout for the students or drawing the chart on the board) or have students make their own lists to identify Korihor’s false teachings. Help students compare Korihor’s tactics with those used in our day.

The Teachings and Tactics of Korihor

Reference

Korihor’s Teaching

What True Doctrine Did Korihor Attack?

Alma 30:12

  

Alma 30:13

  

Alma 30:14

  

Alma 30:15

  

Alma 30:16

  

Alma 30:17

  

Alma 30:18

  

Alma 30:23

  

Alma 30:24

  

Alma 30:25

  

Alma 30:26

  

Alma 30:27

  

Alma 30:28

  

Discuss these verses by asking questions such as the following:

  • How are Korihor’s teachings like the false teachings in our day?

  • What are possible sources (such as people, institutions, or philosophies) of such false teachings today?

Explain that the first step in protecting ourselves against these teachings is to recognize them. By identifying Korihor’s teachings and tactics, we can more readily recognize their modern counterparts. Other portions of this chapter focus on ways to stay true to the restored gospel even when we face situations that try our faith.

Alma 30:19–22, 29–44. A Firm Testimony of Jesus Christ and His Prophets Helps Safeguard Us from Personal Apostasy

Ask the following question:

  • Why is it difficult to respond to arguments like Korihor’s?

Explain that we can learn from the responses of the people Korihor tried to deceive. Write People of Ammon on the board. Invite students to read Alma 30:19–21 silently.

  • From what you know about the Ammonites, why do you think Korihor was unable to lead them astray? (Write students’ answers on the board next to People of Ammon.)

Write Giddonah on the board. Ask students to read Alma 30:21–23, 29.

  • How did Giddonah respond to Korihor’s arguments? (Write students’ answers on the board next to Giddonah.)

In connection with Alma 30:29, invite students to read the statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith on page 217 in the student manual.

  • How can we tell if a person is sincerely seeking truth or just being contentious?

  • In what ways can we respond to someone who is asking difficult questions but sincerely seeking the truth? In what ways can we respond to someone who is being contentious?

Write Alma on the board. Invite students to read Alma 30:30–44.

  • How did Alma respond to Korihor’s arguments? (Write students’ answers on the board next to Alma.)

Alma bore strong testimony of God the Father and Jesus Christ. To emphasize the power of personal testimony, ask a student to read the statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland on page 217 in the student manual.

  • In what ways is a personal testimony a “timeless and ultimately undeniable weapon”?

Alma was able to share his testimony so powerfully because he had worked to gain that testimony and strengthen it. To help students understand how Alma gained his testimony, divide them into four groups.

Write the following question on the board: What experiences prepared Alma to deal with Korihor and his teachings? Assign one of the following scripture blocks to each group: Mosiah 27–29; Alma 1–3; Alma 4–7; Alma 8–16. Ask the groups to search the chapter headings in their assigned scripture blocks to help them recall Alma’s experiences.

When students have had enough time to study their assigned passages, ask each group to report their answers.

  • What experiences have you had that have strengthened your testimony and prepared you to defend your faith?

  • What can we do to prepare as Alma did?

Invite students to read Alma 30:39, 44 silently, marking the evidences Alma gave for the existence of God: (1) the testimonies of others, (2) the scriptures, and (3) God’s creations. Then discuss each of these evidences, using some or all of the following ideas:

Testimonies of Others

Ask a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 46:13–14. Explain that the ability to believe others’ testimonies of the truth is a gift of the Spirit.

You may want to share the following statement by President Harold B. Lee (1899–1973), the 11th President of the Church:

“Some of you may not have a testimony, and so I have said to other groups like you, if you don’t have a testimony today, why don’t you cling to mine for a little while? Hold on to our testimonies, the testimonies of your bishops, your stake presidents, until you can develop it. If you can say nothing more today than I believe because my president, or my bishop, believes, I trust him, do this until you can get a testimony for yourselves; but I warn you that won’t stay with you unless you continue to cultivate it and live the teachings” (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, ed. Clyde J. Williams [1996], 136).

  • How have other people’s testimonies strengthened your testimony?

Scriptures

Have a student read the following statement by Elder Donald L. Staheli of the Seventy:

“Personal, sincere involvement in the scriptures produces faith, hope, and solutions to our daily challenges. Frequently reading, pondering, and applying the lessons of the scriptures, combined with prayer, become an irreplaceable part of gaining and sustaining a strong, vibrant testimony” (in Conference Report, Oct. 2004, 40; or Ensign, Nov. 2004, 39).

  • In what ways have the scriptures and the words of latter-day prophets strengthened your testimony?

God’s Creations

Ask a student to read the statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley on page 218 in the student manual.

  • In what ways do the earth and heavens testify of God?

Alma 30:52–53. “I Always Knew That There Was a God”

Invite a student to read Alma 30:52–53. Then read the following statement by Sister Janette C. Hales, who served as Young Women general president. Ask students to listen carefully to the statement, reflecting on Korihor’s mistakes.

“Korihor is described … as an antichrist, but I’m not sure that he started out that way. Have you ever thought that possibly Korihor started out … with lots of questions? Although his questioning may have begun honestly, he made two really bad mistakes. First, he denied his faith. He denied the Light of Christ that had been given to him. Second, he started to preach false doctrine to others. Alma, his leader, bore his testimony to Korihor, and then Korihor made another mistake. Rather than listening to his leader and listening and relying on the Spirit, he defended his position with logic and became more argumentative. He demanded that he be given a sign. Korihor was given a sign. He was struck dumb. He didn’t perhaps intend for the sign to have such an effect on him personally, but often the consequences of our mistakes do affect us personally.

“Verses 52 and 53 of chapter 30 are most important, I believe. Korihor acknowledges, ‘I always knew that there was a God. But behold, the devil hath deceived me’ (Alma 30:52–53). Isn’t that interesting? ‘I always knew.’ He had the Light of Christ in him, but Satan deceived him” (“Lessons That Have Helped Me,” in Brigham Young University 1992–93 Devotional and Fireside Speeches [1993], 89).

  • According to Sister Hales, what were Korihor’s mistakes?

  • Why do you think someone in Korihor’s position might become defensive and argumentative rather than follow a leader’s counsel?

  • Why is it unwise to become defensive and argumentative when we have questions or doubts?

Alma 31:5. The Word of God Has the Power to Help Us Improve

Have a student read the statement by President Boyd K. Packer on page 219 in the student manual.

  • Why is it important to learn the doctrines of the gospel? (See D&C 84:85.)

  • Why is it important to study the doctrine on our own and not to simply hear it spoken at church?

Ask a student to read Alma 31:5.

  • What gives the word of God power to change our lives? (Make sure students understand that one reason the word is powerful is that it invites the Holy Spirit into our lives.)

Invite a student to read the statement by President Ezra Taft Benson on pages 219–20 in the student manual. Ask students to list the blessings President Benson described that come from studying the scriptures.

Alma 31:8–25. Disobedience Leads to Error and Apostasy

The Zoramites had been members of the Church but had “fallen into great errors” (Alma 31:9). Have the students compare the Nephites described in Alma 30:3 with the Zoramites described in Alma 31:9–10.

  • In what ways does disobedience influence our testimonies?

Have students cross-reference Alma 31:9 with John 7:17 .

  • How does obedience influence our testimonies?

Invite students to quickly review Alma 31:1–25 and list characteristics of the Zoramites and their worship habits. (Students’ lists could include that the Zoramites said repetitious prayers, had one set place to pray, worshipped only once a week, believed that God had elected only them to be saved, were materialistic, and looked down on the poor.) Invite a few students to share their lists with the class. (You might consider drawing a parallel between the Zoramites’ actions and some of our modern-day tendencies, such as saying repetitious prayers, worshipping only once a week, feeling that we are chosen and better than others, and becoming materialistic.)

Through the following questions and discussion, help students understand that active involvement in the gospel, such as temple work, family home evening, service projects, and activities through our branches and wards, helps us stay close to the Lord. Such activities help us invite the Holy Spirit into our lives throughout the week, not just on the Sabbath. As the Spirit becomes part of our daily life, we are able to withstand the anti-Christs of our day and stay faithful to Jesus Christ.

  • Alma 31:10 says that the Zoramites refused to observe the “performances of the church.” What are some “performances of the church” today? (Answers may include priesthood ordinances, opportunities to serve in the Church, family responsibilities such as family home evening, personal prayer, scripture study, and temple and family history work.)

  • How do these performances help us avoid entering into temptation?

  • How do these performances invite the Spirit into our lives?

  • Why is the word daily in verse 10 important in our efforts to keep the Spirit in our lives? (See 2 Corinthians 4:16; Helaman 3:36. Note that since pride can “grow upon [us] day to day,” we need to be “renewed day by day.”)

Alma 31:12–38. Disciples of Jesus Christ Love and Serve Others

Alma 31 contains two prayers that are very different from each other. As students compare the Zoramites’ prayer with Alma’s prayer, they can identify the possible thoughts and beliefs that led to the prayers. Have students quickly read Alma 31:15–18 (the Zoramites’ prayer) and Alma 31:26–35 (Alma’s prayer). Ask them to share what they learn about the Zoramites and Alma from the words of these prayers. Invite two students to list these insights on the board, one student listing insights about the Zoramites and the other listing insights about Alma.

  • What do you think motivated Alma to serve? (Answers might include his testimony, his love of God, and his love for other people.)

Help students understand that a testimony of Jesus Christ leads us to love and serve others. Read the following statement by Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (1915–1994):

“When we truly become converted to Jesus Christ, committed to Him, an interesting thing happens: our attention turns to the welfare of our fellowmen, and the way we treat others becomes increasingly filled with patience, kindness, a gentle acceptance, and a desire to play a positive role in their lives. This is the beginning of true conversion” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1992, 26; or Ensign, May 1992, 20).

  • What did Alma ask because he loved the people? (See Alma 31:34–35.)

  • In what ways can we apply Alma’s example in our lives?