Alma 61

Alma 61:2 I do not joy in your great afflictions, yea, it grieves my soul

John K. Carmack

"A person's deepest values and true character surface under stress...Pahoran answered Moroni's scathing epistle without a trace of bitterness or defensiveness. An ordinary person, having been placed in Pahoran's devastating position and then wrongly blamed for creating it, would have automatically responded: 'Why are you blaming me, after all I've been through? Find someone else to shoulder this responsibility. I'm through!' Pahoran, to his distinct credit, said, 'I do not joy in your great afflictions, yea, it grieves my soul. But behold, there are those who do joy in your afflictions, yea, insomuch that they have risen up in rebellion against me, and also those of my people who are freemen.' (Alma 61:2-3.) (Heroes from the Book of Mormon, p. 140.)

Alma 61:9 in your epistle you have censured me, but it mattereth not; I am not angry

Neal A. Maxwell

"...we must always realize that in a perfect church filled with imperfect people, there are bound to be some miscommunications at times. A noteworthy example occurred in ancient American Israel. Moroni wrote two times to Pahoran complaining of neglect because much-needed reinforcements did not arrive. Moroni used harsh language, accusing the governor of the land, Pahoran, of sitting on his throne in a state of 'thoughtless stupor.' (Alma 60:7.) Pahoran soon made a very patriotic reply, explaining why he could not do what Moroni wanted. Though censured, Pahoran was not angry; he even praised Moroni for 'the greatness of your heart.' (Alma 61:9.) Given the intense, mutual devotion of disciples, discussions as to how best to move the Lord's work along are bound to produce tactical differences on occasion. Just as in this episode, sometimes scolding occurs that is later shown to be unjustified.

"Parley P. Pratt recalled an episode when President Brigham Young chastened him and others for their management of the westward migration. In this instance also, there were two letters of a scolding nature, even alleging insubordination. Of this Elder Pratt wrote, 'I could not realize this at the time, and protested that in my own heart, so far as I was concerned, I had no such motive; that I had been actuated by the purest motives. . . .' Later it became clear to Elder Pratt that some of those scolded had motives that were not as pure as his. He commented further, '. . . yet I thank God for this timely chastisement; I profited by it, and it caused me to be more watchful and careful ever after.' (Autobiography of Parley Parker Pratt [Deseret Book, 1961], pp. 341-42.)

"It is worthy remembering that Elder Pratt protested in his heart, not publicly. He took it. Perhaps President Young, like Moroni, might have taken note of how Elder Pratt was even sick at the time-but, like Moroni, President Young did not know of the full conditions.

"The stuff out of which offense is made is all around us, if we wish to seize upon it. What we learn, however, from men like Pahoran and Elder Pratt should give us pause, especially when we may be inclined to take umbrage instead of following the Brethren." (All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience, p. 119-20)

Hugh Nibley

"The church is a training school in which everyone is there for the training. So don't waste time criticizing the authorities. In that regard the Book of Mormon gives us another neat example. Moroni had very good reason to complain about the top men of the nation 'sitting upon [their] . . . thrones in a state of thoughtless stupor' while the work of death was going on all around them (Alma 60:7). Many today are complaining of a like situation...But the moral of the story, as it turns out, is that Moroni in his criticism was wrong, completely out of order; he simply did not understand the situation. He was quite right about the crime, but it was not for him to apportion the guilt. So let us, when distressed by the inadequacies of others, remember the number-one instruction of the Book of Mormon: 'This is my doctrine . . . that the Father commandeth all men everywhere to repent and believe in me' (3 Nephi 11:32). This life is 'a state of probation' (2 Nephi 2:21). 'Be wise in the days of your probation' (Mormon 9:28)." (The Prophetic Book of Mormon, p. 564)

Alma 61:9 rejoice in the greatness of your heart

One might wonder why Mormon took the time to give us the detail of Moroni's long epistle and Pahoran's reply. His purpose, assuredly, was not to show that Moroni made a mistake in his hasty accusations. Rather, it was to show what Pahoran termed "the greatness of [his] heart." The recurring theme of the war section of Alma is that Moroni was a great man, "for if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever" (Alma 48:17). So we should emulate Moroni in all respects and be thankful for the details given by Mormon which demonstrate that amidst all of his greatness, Moroni was only human.

Gordon B. Hinckley

"I have worked with seven Presidents of this Church. I have recognized that all have been human. But I have never been concerned over this. They may have had some weaknesses. But this has never troubled me. I know that the God of heaven has used mortal men throughout history to accomplish His divine purposes. They were the very best available to Him, and they were wonderful." (Ensign, May 1992, p. 53 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 524)

Alma 61:13 he doth not command us that we shall subject ourselves to our enemies

"In Moroni's patriotic letter to Pahoran and in Pahoran's reply may be found the Nephite philosophy of war. It was not the will of God that they should permit their freedoms to be trampled upon and destroyed. They understood that there was a higher law than the law of man; and when men commenced to destroy their freedom, Moroni felt justified in threatening to stir up insurrections against tyranny and misrule. Christians cannot be aggressors; otherwise they are not Christians. But true Christians should resist infringement upon their freedom, even if they have to take up arms against the oppressors. And in their resistance to oppression, men of Christian faith should seek for the strength and blessings of God to accompany their cause." (Hyrum L. Andrus, War and Saints, p. 21 - 22.)

Alma 61:15 the Spirit of also the spirit of freedom

"The American tradition of freedom is essentially spiritual in its origin and its orientation. The Spirit of God, the Book of Mormon declares, is the spirit of freedom. The tradition of freedom in America commenced when the Spirit of God 'wrought upon' the early colonizers so that they prospered and established free institutions in this land. Christ declared to the Nephites that the Holy Spirit that would be poured out upon modern Americans would cause them to be 'mighty above all'; and that they would 'be set up as a free people by the power of the Father.' (3 Ne 21:4) When men are responsive to the Spirit of God, this divine agent acts to strengthen the elements of character within them and to mature them toward a position of true independence under God." (Hyrum L. Andrus, Liberalism, Conservatism, Mormonism, p. 65 - 66.)

Mark E. Petersen

"Without free agency there could be no gospel of Christ. The character development provided by the gospel will lead us to the perfection of which the Savior spoke in the Sermon on the Mount only if we elect to live the gospel. Otherwise we can never receive of its benefits. (Alma 12:18.) That right of election-that right of free agency-must ever be preserved. If a man commits sin, he must have the liberty to turn from his ways and repent, and thus come under the purview of the gospel.

"Hence the gospel is called the 'perfect law of liberty' (James 1:25), and those who are blessed by it enjoy the 'glorious liberty of the children of God.' (Rom. 8:21).

"When Paul addressed the Corinthians he said: '. . . where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.' (2 Cor. 3:17.) This was reflected in the Book of Mormon statement that 'the Spirit of God . . . is also the Spirit of freedom.' (Alma 61:15.)" (Adam: Who Is He? p.62.)

Alma 61:21 my beloved brother, Moroni

Solomon said, 'he that is slow to wrath is of great understanding' (Prov 14:29), and 'rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee' (Prov 9:8). Though rebuked by Moroni, Pahoran still loved his brother Moroni, thereby proving that he was indeed 'a wise man' and 'of great understanding.'

"Had Pahoran been angry and retaliated with sarcasm and like accusations, the country might have perished. It might have lost two great leaders. But because Pahoran was meek and humble and took responsibility for his own actions, words, and feelings, hope returned. The nation rallied under two great leaders and regained its liberty. Many also have been influenced by his example, not only then but now as well." (Anita R. Canfield, A Perfect Brightness of Hope, p. 59.)